Education Question 4

Chicago has the shortest school day among large, urban districts. What would you do about that?

Gery Chico: Studies have proven that increasing the time spent learning leads to an improvement in student achievement.  As President of the Chicago Board of Education, I developed extended school-day programs that kept more than 125,000 children in school longer and expanded summer school opportunities which served as many as 175,000 children each summer.  Unfortunately many of these programs have now been scaled back or eliminated completely.  As Mayor of Chicago, I will work to extend the school day from a six-hour day to an eight-hour, and the calendar year from 176 to 200 days a year. 

Miguel del Valle:
Identifying the public and private resources needed to lengthen the school day and school year will be one of my highest priorities as mayor.  However, I realize the length of the school day is a negotiated issue with the Chicago Teachers Union.  I will engage in a collaborative effort with the union and others about how to lengthen the school day.  However, in the end, as mayor my main responsibility will be to do what is best for students and their families.

Another strategy that complements lengthening the school day is building on the existing community learning center model. On December 2, I publicly stated that as mayor I will increase focus on and investment in Community Learning Centers like the one at Monroe Elementary School in the Logan Square neighborhood. Monroe partners with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) to provide programs for families after school and in the evening, including adult education classes for parents, homework help for students, as well as sports, music, and art programs for children.

I propose a partnership with the private sector to fund the creation of more Community Learning Centers like this one, increasing their number by 50% during my first term as mayor. Just as we have a responsibility to be engaged in our children’s learning, Chicago’s business community must continue to support community learning as well. This is a natural partnership. I believe in these partnerships because they work.

Rahm Emanuel: It is unacceptable that a student graduating high school in Chicago has had four years less of classroom instruction time than her counterpart in Houston. Until learning time is extended, particularly for students that need it most, achievement won't dramatically improve.

Chicago's teachers are committed to improving student outcomes and often are employed by CPS in various after school programs throughout the school year. However, the current contract restricts learning time and puts our children and our city at a competitive disadvantage. I will work with the teachers' union to lengthen the learning day and school year because it's the right investment in our children.

Increased learning time will include academic, arts and athletics programs beyond the traditional school day – building on the success of the community school model in place in some Chicago schools – and forging new, creative partnerships with community and civic organizations that extend the school day, week and year. Given the cost-effectiveness of technology, we must also include on-line learning during after school programs.

Carol Moseley Braun: Appropriate measures concerning increasing the length of school days must be pursued within the parameters of fiscal responsibility.

Patrica Van Pelt-Watkins:
I believe that we need more learning time for students -- whether it is inside or outside the school day.  While it would be ideal to extend the length of the school day, the cost may be too prohibitive in the current economic climate.  However, I would move to implement effective alternatives, such as expanding community schools and increasing after school programs that provide an extension of learning by offering tutoring, art appreciation, cultural enrichment experiences and family learning opportunities.

William "Doc" Walls, III:
On an average of U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, over the course of 180 days.  The State of Illinois requires 176 days of education. Last year, the Chicago Public Schools only had 170 days. In addition to meeting the State's requirements, we will extend the CPS school day for K-12. Students will be required to attend school from 8:30AM to 3:30 PM.