Six public elementary schools in Chicago launched a 90-minutes-longer school day on Monday.
One of the schools, Disney II Magnet School, was set to receive a visit from Chicago Public Schools head Jean-Claude Brizard, who wanted to thank the teachers who agreed to waive their contract and break from the Chicago Teachers Union, which has opposed the immediate institution of the longer day, earlier this month.
How are Disney II students reacting to their school day's earlier start time and later dismissal time? Most of the students CBS 2 spoke with seemed to be big fans of the new schedule, allowing more time for gym, recess and reading time.
According to FOX Chicago, Disney II and five other schools have agreed to lengthen their school day as of Monday, while teachers at seven other schools are set to join them in January. In exchange for joining the CPS's longer day "pioneer" program, teachers at the schools will receive two percent raises and the schools themselves well receive $150,000 in discretionary funding -- half that for the schools who join next year. The raises are also half of the previously agreed-upon four percent raise the Chicago Board of Education denied teachers earlier this year.
The longer school day has been at the center of a bitter ongoing debate between CPS, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CTU. While 13 schools have approved the longer day, the teachers union contends that many more have voted down the idea. According to an analysis released by the union Friday, teachers at 115 schools have voted against instituting the longer school day, which is expected to be mandated citywide for the 2012-13 academic year, yet this school year.
CTU president Karen Lewis argued, in a statement, that their analysis confirms the union's call for more time to plan how the 90 minutes of additional instructional time will be structured and allocated between different academic areas and activities. The union filed suit against the school board over the issue earlier this month.
"These results demonstrate that most union members clearly favor taking the appropriate time necessary to carefully plan for delivering the rich and broad curriculum that our students deserve," Lewis said. "This longer school day initiative is just another experiment in a long line of experiments over the last two decades."
Lewis was invited to participate in an advisory committee tasked with coming up with recommendations on how to best implement the extra instructional time, but declined, according to the Chicago Tribune. While Lewis offered the names of five other individuals she thought would be suitable participants in the process, Brizard has argued that offer was contingent on the union head also joining the committee.