Skip to main content


2009 Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon Series: Is more time the wave of the future?

Jennifer Davis, co-founder of Massachusetts 2020 and president of the National Center on Time & Learning, reviews the national scene, the research, the stakeholders, the revenue streams and the issues.


Erica Harris
, officer for the CPS Office of Extended Learning Opportunities, talks about how time fits into CPS' strategy and what the district is doing to extend it.

Timothy Knowles, Lewis-Sebring Director of the the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, raises the issues that policy makers and schools must address if more time is to be used wisely. 

This year, the Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon – and the winter issue of Catalyst Chicago -- considers: “More Time: Necessity or Tangent?”

Key questions are:

• How can extra time best be used to improve learning?
• How and for whom should learning time be extended?
• How can we use existing time more effectively?

From Mayor Daley to Education Secretary Arne Duncan to President Obama, there is a drumbeat to extend the school day and year and to keep schools open as community centers, providing still more learning time for children and their families.

With just 308 minutes for instruction each day, Chicago has one of the shortest school days in the country. At 170 days, its school year is 10 days shorter than the national average.

Meanwhile, some of the country's leading educators are pushing for more school-day time for teachers' professional learning and implementation, as a team, of strong instructional programs. In the United States, teachers spend three to five hours a week on lesson planning, working pretty much on their own, according to a groundbreaking report released earlier this year. In higher performing European and Asian countries, teachers spend 15 to 20 hours a week, generally in collaboration with their peers.

Of course, just expanding the hours available for student and teacher learning does not automatically increase student achievement or teacher performance. Indeed given the cost, some would argue that advocating for extra school time relieves pressure to make better use of existing time – and after-school programs.

However, one state--Massachusetts – is looking more broadly at time, viewing it as a lever for school redesign. The Bay State's Extended Learning Time (ELT) Initiative added up to two hours to the school day at 26 low-performing schools. The program was the model for federal legislation introduced by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

The 2009 Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon Series is produced by Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) and Catalyst Chicago


Recorded Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at Union League Club of Chicago.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.