Pastors United for Change and CPS parents called on leaders to lenghten Chicago Public School's school day and year at a press conference on Monday, August 8th at Benneker Elementary School on the South Side.
They hope to convince Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools and other leaders that the school day must be lengthened to keep children off the streets and give them an edge in a competative global economy.
"We are sick and tired of our children spending less time in the classroom and we are sick and tired of them being overlooked," said Rev. Maurice Gaiter, a pastor at Bethlehem Star Church. Chicago Public School days and years are shorter than every other major city in America, they said.
The group stressed that they are concerned both about keeping the city's children safe from crime and giving them the education they need to succeed.
"Children who are in school every day from from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. are just not going to be able to compete in the global economy," said Roosevelt Watkins, also a pastor at Bethlehem Star Church.
Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have said continuously that they plan on making the school day and year longer in Chicago. However, because of a budget shorfall they were unable to find the funding for an expansion this year. In fact, budget cuts have slashed after-school programs, making the school day even shorter for many students.
School started Monday, August 8th for thousands of CPS students who attend Track E schools, which run on a year-round schedule. However, while these schools start earlier in the year they have the same number of instructional days as regular track schools.
The leaders from Pastors United for Change also plan to deliver letters to aldermen urging them to support positive educational reforms, including lengthening the school day and year.