Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, D-Ward 3, has introduced legislation that would expand the school day in District of Columbia Public Schools. The School Day Expansion Act of 2010 would extend the DCPS school day to seven hours, an increase of 30 minutes per day and 90 hours of classroom instruction per year.

“DCPS has the shortest public school day in the region,” said Cheh in a press statement.  “Moreover many of our charter schools, such as KIPP, Cesar Chavez, and El Haynes, and other public school districts have found success by increasing the amount of time that students are learning in the classroom.”

Students in DCPS attend school for six-and-a-half hours each day, from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.  In contrast, the public school day in Fairfax County is six hours, 50 minutes. Many charter schools have school days that exceed seven hours.  Students attend classes at Maya Angelou for eight-and-a-half hours each day, while KIPP students are at school for nine hours daily.

President Obama has advocated for schools “to rethink the school day to incorporate more time.”  In a speech last year, he said that “the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom. If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America.”

Under Cheh’s proposal, the chancellor and individual school principals would determine how to best use this additional instructional time to improve student achievement. This bill would not apply to charter schools and private schools.