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Cheh calls for longer school day

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) will introduce a bill Tuesday to extend the school day for 45,000 District public school students by at least a half hour, an effort to give kids more classroom instructional time.

The bill, set to be introduced at the council's regularly scheduled meeting, would extend the school day from the current 6.5 hours to at least seven hours, Cheh said Monday. Currently, the school day at many District schools begins at 8:45 a.m. and concludes at 3:15 p.m.

Cheh's proposal, which will likely undergo extensive review before the council acts on it, is designed to help the District meet President Obama's call for longer school days to enhance the quality of education.

Cheh said the change would also place District public schools in line with the instructional time already offered by some local charter schools.

But District school children shouldn't start fretting about more time in the classroom just yet.

Cheh acknowledges that the longer stay day would come at considerable cost to taxpayers. And with the city forecasted to face lean local budgets for the foreseeable future, Cheh said, it could be some time before her legislation is enacted.

"This will be the start of the conversation," Cheh said.

By Tim Craig  | October 5, 2010; 5:29 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council, Education  
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Comments

This will never fly because of the money. This will require money to keepbuildings open longer, increase utilities and increase pay for staff. Not a bad idea but not well thought through considering the state of the economy.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 5, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

This happened before in the early 90s (91, I believe, I was in 7th grade at the time) DCPS school days used to be 9-3. There was less $$ then, more kids, more crime.

An extra 1/2 hour didn't change much over the nearly 10 years will an extra 1/2 hour really help now? Are they going to actually look into how the schools did better/worse when implementing the 1/2 hour in '91 or is this just some, hey lets do something that sounds good idea.

Posted by: Redial1 | October 5, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Good idea. It won't help their education, of course, but it will improve the DC crime statistics, for the longer they can keep those little shi*s off the streets, the better it is for everyone. They ought to keep them in school 24/7--at least, then, DC would be safer.

Posted by: FridayKnight | October 5, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

And just what will the extra :30 provide?

Tutoring time, additional courses like science or more applied learning? :30 more minutes of math or does each period just goes 3-5 minutes longer? will the :30 be time to get kids active and exercise?

I'm for a longer day and school year actually, but do it with some focus versus just tossing out ideas.

Posted by: oknow1 | October 5, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Agree with the comments regarding quality, not quantity. Doing the same thing for an extra 30 minutes is a waste. If the time is used for expanding access to science, music, robotics, computer technology, museum studies, sports programs, clubs, mentoring etc . . ., then great.

Posted by: horacemann | October 5, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It's a great idea and I think we should go for an hour. It will not increase costs whatsoever, if we tell the unions this is their part in helping DC get a graduation rate of 80%. The building still needs to be heated and cooled. The janitor still has to clean, the staff just need to take a hit and work a full day. We are paying our staff and teachers well. Now let's get these kids in school longer and get more parents involved with their kids so we don't end up with another uneducated generation in DC. I also think that we need to tie public benefits with children’s attendance, after all the purpose of welfare, etc is to help people in need to raise their kids and the number one thing is getting them educated and for that they need to be present...it's just basic common sense. If the taxpayers are paying for the welfare check to help a struggling parent, then the parent has to hold up their end of the deal!

Posted by: bdaneker | October 5, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Come on guys, it's going to be 30 minutes more of test prep.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | October 5, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

It's weird that it would cost more money (I imagine that Ms. Cheh means paying teachers for their extra services). The teachers are already getting a huge raise under the 'radical' contract negotiated by Rhee. How about this: teachers are getting paid more, so why don't we ask them to do more? It should cost a penny more than they are already spending except for the costs of the lights being on.

Posted by: jfanderson | October 5, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Cheh has to propose this to make up for the time schools will be required to spend on gym (fitness, phys ed) classes under her Healthy Schools Act bill.

Posted by: gardyloo | October 5, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

bdaneker, you have probably not been a classroom teacher. 8:45 - 3:15 is a pretty full day if you are managing 20-25 kids in a classroom setting. It doesn't end there. I'm in at 7am and leave after 5pm. I work on the weekends. I wake up at 3am worrying about how to help a kid go further. You are mistaken that we are paid well given the intellectual and emotional demands of the job. Per hour its probably around $12-15 or less for most teachers. We can't buy homes in nice neighborhoods without another hefty income or family money.

Still, I agree with Cheh's proposal if it helps us implement 200 minutes of physical education for each child each week. Lots of behavioral problems would go away if the kids are able to exercise more each day.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | October 5, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

bdaneker, you have probably not been a classroom teacher. 8:45 - 3:15 is a pretty full day if you are managing 20-25 kids in a classroom setting. It doesn't end there. I'm in at 7am and leave after 5pm. I work on the weekends. I wake up at 3am worrying about how to help a kid go further. You are mistaken that we are paid well given the intellectual and emotional demands of the job. Per hour its probably around $12-15 or less for most teachers. We can't buy homes in nice neighborhoods without another hefty income or family money.

Still, I agree with Cheh's proposal if it helps us implement 200 minutes of physical education for each child each week. Lots of behavioral problems would go away if the kids are able to exercise more each day.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | October 5, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Still, I agree with Cheh's proposal if it helps us implement 200 minutes of physical education for each child each week. Lots of behavioral problems would go away if the kids are able to exercise more each day.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork

Great point, especially in the younger grades. But don't forget science, music, art and history. Unfortunately, like many posters, I see 30 more minutes of test-prep; unless Gray hires a qualified Superintendent who knows how to run an inner-city school system.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

CHEH... YOU MUST GO! Let's start the conversation to get rid of you! The school day is long enough! It is about time that mothers and fathers do their jobs! They should be raising their kids, not teachers! Start holding parents accountable for their kids!!!!!
A GREAT CONVERSATION-----GET RID OF CHEH!

Posted by: edjook8tr | October 5, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

As a DC teacher I wouldn't mind having my kids for an extra 30 minutes a day. Our days are exhaustingly long already, but I could do more with an additional 30 minutes of instructional time. I'm disgusted by the people who think we just got such a hefty raise and should now work more for it. Any teacher who puts in the hours to truly do their job well works 7 days a week and puts in an incredible number of unpaid hours. We are paid much less than other professionals with similar years of education. As has already been stated, most DC teachers still can't afford to buy property in DC unless they have a significant other who is making more than them. Additionally, we are routinely asked to do things that can't be possibly be done within our paid hours of work.

Posted by: anotherdcteacher | October 5, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Many teachers will be the strongest opposition to this good idea. They will demand more money.

Posted by: axolotl | October 5, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

As teachers, we are already in school fro 8-3:30. I wouldn't mind starting classes earlier. I think the extra half hour would be best served by having a 30 minute "study period" at the end of the day, focusing on reading, writing and math. The biggest problem I see is getting the high school kids in. We already have problems with kids not showing up to school until 9:30. If they don't come to school at 8:45, they won't show up when they are supposed to be there earlier.

Posted by: festus52 | October 6, 2010 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Private schools in the District have for a long time begun Instruction at 8AM and concluded at 4PM. It is how you fit MORE curricular activities into the day, whether it be study hall, ROTC drill, Band practice, Art classes, Physics Labs etc.. High school in particular should NOT end at 3PM. We are training these people o hold full time jobs which will generally end at 5PM. How do you begin to train them for a longer day; if you continue to treat them as if they are 6 years old - 12 years old? You extend their day ..to 4PM
You teachers need to get along with the program if you want to keep your JOBS. The gravy train is OVER.

Posted by: digtldesk | October 6, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

This comment is mainly for the non-teachers who seem to know more about teaching than the true professionals who work extremely long hours outside of the regular school hours.
A teacher's job does not start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m. When the kids are gone after dismissal, a great many teachers remain in school, sometimes until the janitor tells them that they have to vacate because it's time to close up. All this time they are planning for the next day. The make charts, copy exercises, devise strategies to help improve presentation, group participation, and student learning in general. Weekends are taken up with lesson planning for the whole week. Non-teachers should realize that one well-planned lesson takes hours to construct, and imagine an elementary school teacher who has to plan several of these lessons, all of his/her non-teaching time is utilized in careful planning.
Others argue that DCPS teachers just got a 'hefty' raise, so they must work longer hours. That's ludicrous. DCPS teachers worked for years without a contract and received no raises, while the cost of living shot up astronomically. Teachers in other jurisdictions got their raises, but nobody told them that they have to work longer hours. In addition to all that, the paltry $175 (one time, it was $100 up to last year)given to DCPS teachers to buy supplies from Office Depot, is swallowed up in one small gulp. DCPS teachers spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars throughout the year to buy supplies for their classrooms. Most of the supplies they really need are not sold at Office Depot. They are sold at Educational stores found only in Maryland and Virginia. So DC teachers go to these stores and spend their own money to make their classroom comfortable and attractive to their students.
About five years ago, DCPS teachers were mandated to report for work at 8:00 instead of 8:30 that was previously the norm. (By the way, the Washington Teachers'Union agreed with this proposal) That extra half hour was supposed to be utilized for COLLABORATION. (I wonder whatever happened to that concept). Was any study done to find out what impact the additional half hour created since it was implemented? Now another half hour is suggested to be added to the instructional time. Would this be test-prep time or unwinding time or extra baby-stitting time? It's interesting to find out what the authorities are planning to do with this extra time. If this is implemented, teachers should be paid for the extra time they are mandated to work.

Posted by: PATT1 | October 6, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh. You have got to be kidding. HOW ON EARTH did she not foresee this when she demanded (via your "healthy" schools act) that breakfast be served in the classroom, during instructional time? OF COURSE parents of conscience (and often, means) have started bringing their children 20-30 minutes late to school to avoid the frosted pop tarts (whole grain!), pizza bagels and graham crackers.

I agree with TItle1soccermom's observation that it will be 30 min more test prep.

But Mary Cheh knows we can't trust "Those DCPS" parents with the care and upbringing of their own children, which requires a lot of time spent "deprogramming" them after a day spent in school. Remember what happened at all the schools who eliminated recess to boost test scores? Ridiculous.

Also, I don't CARE how Montg County or Fairfax does it. There are many of us who choose to avoid those school systems.

We need to stand up to this extended school day/year garbage. Just because others go down a foolish path, does not mean we need to follow. We have enough issues at DCPS; don't another one.

Posted by: dcparent | October 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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