Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why do wealthy suburban schools really score higher on tests?

The longer school day propaganda continues

Stupid ed journalism doesn't get any stupider than this. The Chicago Sun-Times annual story about wealthy suburban elementary schools outscoring inner city schools carried this headline: "Top schools have longer days."

I mean kissing the mayor's butt is one thing, but you're not going to sell his 90-minutes of extra seat time plan by claiming that kids at Highland Park’s Braeside School, the highest-scoring neighborhood elementary school in the state, score higher than kids on the west side of Chicago because of a few minutes more seat time?
“The more education time, the better,” said [Beth] Bernat, mother of a Braeside fourth- and first-grader. “At this age, they are all sponges.
Sponges indeed!

What the Sun-Times failed to report was that Highland Park actually has 5 fewer schools days each year (175) than does Chicago. Students do stay in school some 45 minutes longer in HP but much of that time is spent in recess or lunch (not a bad idea). Not one high-scoring suburban district uses Rahm's 90-minute longer school day model.

Most importantly, the Sun-Times doesn't tell us that Braeside School is a small school with only 270 students, with not one of them eligible for free lunch or Title I funding. Dist. 112 spends about $13,000 per elementary school student and has 13 students for every full-time teacher, well below the state average.  The median income in this exclusively white, north shore community is $115,000 with many earning ten times more than that annually.

Ironically, even the Sun-Times own editorial board had some problems swallowing Rahm's longer-school-day crap.  
While the instructional day in Chicago (which excludes recess and lunch) is undoubtedly shorter than in other cities, we aren’t convinced Chicago is as far behind as CPS contends. No independent analysis exists... There’s broad support for a longer day. But if it’s too long, CPS could easily find itself with a lot of unproductive or even counter-productive time on its hands.
Finally, all of the suburban districts mentioned in the S-T story have the length of their school day and school year negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement between the board and the teachers union. Rahm would do well to follow that approach rather than acting out his autocratic fantasies. 

So how about it, Sun-Times. How about ALL the news that's fit to print?

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