Summary of Fall Membership Meeting at Coonley

As many of you know, Raise Your Hand hosted a meeting on Tuesday, September 27th at Coonley School to discuss the issue of extending the CPS school day.  Approximately 130 audience members – primarily  parents and teachers, heard from Raise Your Hand members as well as comments from Alderman Ameya Pawar (47thWard) and representatives from CPS and the CTU.  During the meeting, RYH shared the results of its informal survey focused on extending length of the CPS school day. As of last week, 68% of respondents were receptive to a longer day but 83% preferred a day that did not exceed 7 hours. Qualitative comments reflected that respondents felt quality trumped quantity in terms of how the day is spent.

In addition to math and reading in an extended day, the Raise Your Hand survey respondents also rated recess, music, art, physical education, technology and foreign language studies as “very important” aspects to an extended day schedule. The item that parents rated with the lowest level of importance is “test preparation.”

There are more than 600 Chicago Public Schools. For decades, 75 to 85% of them have not had recess. CPS has schools choose between art and music and often only provides a half-time position. Most schools have PE only once a week. In its support for extending the school day, Raise Your Hand maintains that an extension of the day must go hand in hand with funding to pay for a quality, well-rounded schedule including foreign language, arts and physical education as well as critical unstructured time that comes with recess. One-size does not fit all, but there are basic standards that we must address system-wide. Adequate funding for programs and positions is a decisive factor in ensuring that quality of time is on equal par to quantity of time in extending the school day.  Raise Your Hand raised concerns about the lack of communication from CPS and Mayor Emanuel about specific plans on curricular objectives and funding for an extended day at a time when CPS already faces a budget gap that has resulted in significant cuts in staffing and valuable programs for years. 

About the Survey

From September 12-26, 2011 the Raise Your Hand Coalition conducted a survey on the topic of “CPS extended day” via its website. 1,222 unique respondents representing parents and teachers from 230 CPS schools participated in the survey. Respondents included 1063 parents, 88 teachers, and 78 who were both parents and teachers.