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Some Chicago charter schools back in session

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The calendar may say August 1, but it is time for some students to go back to school.

It was back to school Wednesday for students at several charter schools.

Most other charter schools will open in the next couple weeks. This means a longer school year and more instruction time for these students.

Charter school supporters say the schools have a higher graduation rate and higher attendance rates than Chicago public neighborhood schools.

Chicago Public Schools is in the midst of working out its plans for a longer school day as students plan to head back to school after Labor Day at the neighborhood schools.

The mayor and the CEO of CPS were at LEARN Hunter Perkins Campus in Auburn-Gresham to ring the school bell Wednesday. Hunter Perkins students spend 197 days a year in class, according to CPS.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard rang the charter school opening bell this morning shortly before students at "Learn Hunter Perkins Elementary" in the auburn Gresham Neighborhood, filed into class.

This charter school and several others which start today, offer a longer school year for parents like Shaleda Griffin

"I'm a working mom, a single mom, it helps me out a lot," said Shaleda Griffin.

"I like the longer school year," said Omarr Hill, parent.

Omar Hill's kindergarten student Aaron said he is ready to learn and have some fun

"Having fun, making new friends," said Aaron Hill, student.

"Then the kids that missed these days really are at a disadvantage for a while, it is important to be there and be on time," said Brizard.

And they're thinking long term at Hunter Perkins. which calls itself a college prep school, helping students outline a plan at a young elementary age.

"We talk about graduating from college from kindergarten. We talk to the parents, talk to the students, and it is really embedded in our curriculum that it is not an option. It is an expectation," said Jenny Micon, principal.

Most students get accepted through a lottery system. Supporters say attendance rates and graduation rates at charter schools are higher.

Brizard also says he's confident that CPS will come to an agreement with the teachers union soon to avoid a potential strike of Chicago public neighborhood school teachers before the CPS September 4 start date.

"I cannot afford to have 500,000 kids not in school this coming September. Our kids deserve to be in school. They have to, given what we have to do to close the achievement gap to implement what we know has to be in place. It is not an option," Brizard said.

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