PSAT for 3-13-12: Support a QUALITY school day

Parents across Chicago are ramping up their opposition to Mayor Emanuel’s 7.5 hour school day.

For example, a group of parents from Chicago’s 19th Ward, along with their alderman, Matt O’Shea, organized a community forum last Thursday which attracted over 350 people and was written up by most major news outlets, including a column by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.

The group prepared their own power point presentation which apparently blew CPS’s typical dog-and-pony show out of the water by raising and then debunking most of CPS’s public statements about why the 7.5 hour day is necessary.

From the 19th Ward Parents’ presentation:

CPS sez: “The rationale behind moving CPS schools to a full school day is clear…our elementary school students are receiving 22% less instructional time than their peers across the country.” (J.C. Brizard email 2/10/12)

The TRUTH: Average U.S. school day is 6.64 hours for elementary schools. CPS school day is currently 5.75 = 14% difference.

CPS sez: “To be clear, we are not claiming – nor have we ever claimed – that 7.5 hours is the national average; rather, 90 minutes of additional instructional time in elementary schools gets Chicago on par with the national average in instructional minutes in elementary school during the year.” Schools On The Line call-in show. 6:45 to 8:00p.m. March 1st WBEZ 91.5FM with BOE member Jesse Ruiz .

The TRUTH: Assuming all schools that are on par with the national average length of day have a 45 minute lunch and recess period and 15 minutes of passing time, this would mean 5 hours and 30 minutes of instructional time, or 30 minutes more than the average CPS elementary school which currently has at least 5 hours of instructional time.

CPS sez: “With a high school graduation rate of only 57% and 7.9% of 11th graders testing college ready, our children cannot afford to wait another day to get the time they need to boost their achievement.”

The TRUTH: Citywide graduation rate, according to the District State Report Card, is 73.8%. 7.4% of high school students were “chronically truant” in 2010-11. 33 CPS high schools have at least 20% of the student body chronically truant. After lengthening their day, MA schools noted a statistically significant negative impact on attendance rates within first two years. (Bouhy, Gamse, Chekoway, Maree and Fox: Evaluation of MA ELT Initiative after 4 years)

CPS sez: “And while some schools are higher performing than others, there are NO schools in the district where more than 90% of 8th graders are meeting college readiness standards.”

The TRUTH: CPS Explore Tests show that 60 schools with 8th grade classes meet or exceed college readiness standards. ISATs: 80.4% of 8th graders currently meet or exceed.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday today, please show your support for a better – not necessarily 7.5 hour longer – school day by signing the “Say No to the proposed 7.5 hour day” petition here.

If you are a CPS parent, please also take a couple of minutes to fill out this survey.


Please be aware that the petition site,, piggybacks a petition for Michelle Rhee’s anti-public teacher group, Students First, onto the Chicago parents’  petition with the fraudulent come-on, “Good Teachers Deserve Decent Pay.” Don’t sign it or Michelle will automatically add you to her “membership” list and use your name to raise more funds for her hate group. Many groups around the country have asked to stop driving traffic to Rhee, but so far they have refused.

On a similar note, read more about another nasty interlude with the astroturf group Stand for Children’s resident creep here.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.