Students need more art, music and PE at the elementary level. Currently,in many schools, students get art once per week, music once per week, and PE perhaps twice a week. This is inadequate. Extend lunch periods for students for recess. Hire parents to work the recess time (to allow teachers to have an adequate, professional lunch of 45 minutes)
First, thank you for creating a democratic forum for this discussion.
I am a parent and a professional educator. I am excited and embrace the longer school day. It is good for both of my children, who are CPS students and as an educator, it is the right thing to do.
My greatest concern is that recess and any kind of physical movement during the school day is greatly limited. I cannot support a longer school day if the absence of recess, PE and related opportunities for students to run and play continues to be limited.
The work of nueroscientists like John Medina (his book is Brain Rules) cite significant science that limited or no movement actually stifles learning.
Recess, PE, art, music, drama are not "extras", they are essentials because they prepare our brains for learning in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies.
Build the Longer School Day WISELY.
1. Physical education must be offered daily. Every homeroom should have PE once a day. It would replace the need for recess. Health Education should be mandated as part of the PE teachers' responsibilities.
2. Art/Music/Foreign language should be required for every child K-8 at every school. Art can be for 1 semester, Music can be another semester and foreign language should be all year long.
3. An assistant principal/dean of students should be given to every elementary school.
4. Extended care provisions for before and after
5. Teachers/staff should have a minimum of 70 minutes collaboration time/preparation time per day without students
6. Teachers/staff get 30 minutes uninterrupted to eat lunch.
7. All meetings are held through webinars to save time, gas, parking, etc.
I think a longer school day is a no brainer. I think teachers know it, and parents see it. Teachers know that drilling core subjects to a tired, cranky class will get you nowhere fast. This is why enrichment from the Arts and P.E. is not a nice little extra; it is a requirement.
Arts programming in the form of Music stimulates, refreshes, soothes souls AND boosts Math scores. In the form of Drama, it improves reading, comprehension, promotes problem solving, is goal oriented, inclusive, multi-dimensional, interdisciplinary, and multi- cultural. In the form of Visual Art it allows children to communicate and express themselves effectively.
P.E. programs instill a lifetime love of physical activities. Introducing children to team sports and individual fitness techniques improves health over a lifetime.
Children who are lagging behind academically and become disillusioned with school can be lured back in and nurtured on the strength of their love for a particular art or sport. CPS should make student retention and graduation their number 1 goal- there is just no better way to do this. Make school fun for kids!
We need to work with teachers to make this a reality for our kids. We need to ask teachers what they would need and how they would like to spend that time is.
This longer school day cannot come down on the backs of our already undervalued, overworked teachers. The longer day needs to work FOR teachers.
If Teachers had free periods to do prep-work and grading that would cut down on their work hours outside the classroom.
I applaud CPS for opening this forum as a way to solicit feedback and hear everyone's voice.
The "Longer School Day" could be administered in the following way;
Start time 7:00 - 8:30
Programs offered: 45 minutes Performing Arts + 45 min Skills Gap Tutorial
Performing Arts Courses Offered - Musical Theatre, Jazz Dance, Visual Arts, Orchestra or Band
Skill Gap Course - Taught by College Students who major in Education (Reading or Math) as an internship
Weak Readers - Phonics drills and decoding small narratives. How to respond to a writing prompts would also be done in exercises.
Strong Readers - Discussion groups to pull out and discuss key elements of the story. Organizing a response to writing prompts. How to write a response that would receive a top score on a standardized exam by reviewing sample essays and doing practice work.
Students behind in Math - Tutor would be teaching Basic Math (Addition, Subtract, Multiplication, Division, Fractions and introduce percents. How to decode a simple word problem that has multiple steps, review of basic math vocabulary, rules and properties. How to check your work should be covered.
Average Students - Review basic skills to address any skill gaps, focus then on decoding word problems. Algebra basics. Work out problems by hand and only using a calculator to check work. Review of math vocabulary, rules and properties.
Above Average Students - Assess their skills, address any concerns and do higher level math problem solving, discreet and linear math and probabilities. (School counselors could match them up with Saturday programs that will also challenge them as well.)
These tutorial would also have a break time!
Hopes this suggestion is useful.