Parents push to restore recess at Chicago schools

April 6, 2011

Linda Lutton

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(Photo by Tim King/Flickr)

Some parents think they've found a way to restore recess to the school day in Chicago public schools, and add time to the short school day.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has put the Chicago Teachers Union on notice that he wants a longer school day. But Patricia O'Keefe, with the Raise Your Hand Coalition, says the parents can get it done sooner rather than later.

"We don't have to wait a year and a half until the new CTU contract, " O'Keefe said.  Her group found a clause in the current teachers' contract that would let schools put teachers' lunch breaks back in the middle of the day. Nearly all CPS schools have moved those breaks to the end of the day and dismiss kids early.

Moving teachers' breaks, O'Keefe said, could "effectively extend the school day 45 minutes and provide a longer lunch period and most importantly recess."

Raise Your Hand is holding a citywide meeting tonight. It hopes committees of parents and teachers at 100 schools vote to restore recess by fall. That could potentially impact some 50,000 kids.  O'Keefe says both the union and CPS have been supportive of the effort.