We are against a 7.5 hour school day for Chicago Public Schools--it is extreme and unnecessary. We advocate a 6.5 hour school day.
At least 13 CPS elementary schools already have a 6.5 hour day; some have for more than a decade. These schools have retained recess, physical education, art and music, and outperform the CPS average in testing. The 6.5 hour schools also outperform Chicago charter schools with a 7.5 hour or longer day. Twelve additional Chicago public schools moved to a 6.5 hour day this year with little fanfare and virtually no additional cost to CPS.
The average school day in the United States is 6.64 hours. No state has an average school day as long as 7.5 hours. We need to explore what scientific data says about extended school days. We shouldn’t just do it because it makes a good soundbite for Chicago's mayor.
There is little scientific evidence that an extended school day leads to better test scores. In fact, the National Center for Time and Learning found extended time made no difference in students’ math and language arts performance in five of the seven grade levels it examined. Among the 10 largest city school districts, more minutes per year in school does not translate to a higher graduation rate.
Children need school-life balance. There are only so many hours in a day. With a 7.5 hour school day, homework and after-school programs, there is little time left for family, friends, dinner and sleep—which are critical for academic success and healthy development. Inadequate sleep is linked to poor academic performance and childhood obesity. According to the AAP, children need unstructured time as urgently as they need a formal education.
We demand that Chicago Public Schools not extend the school day to 7.5 hours. We ask the CPS task force to examine a 6.5 hour day. The 6.5 model has been proven successful. For the sake of our children, CPS shouldn't fix what isn’t broken and instead take a closer look at what IS working.