Board considering changes as Minneapolis students speak out against longer school days

As longer school days start for Minneapolis schools this week, students again spoke out against the change during a school board meeting on Tuesday.

Students say the extension of the school day for every school is not one-size-fits-all, because some schools already stay longer. 

Under the change, every school has lengthened its school day by 42 minutes. At the same time, the district extended the school year by two weeks. The district says the changes are to make up for the 15 days missed during the teachers strike and meet state-mandated requirements for school days and instruction hours.

"Why are you punishing us because teachers were fighting for living wages," said student Knadija Ba.

While the district and the union agreed to the plan, students say they didn’t get any say in it and that not all schools and grade levels will be short of state requirements despite the time lost.

They argue that elementary schools, for example, will meet the minimum hourly requirements without the additional time added on. Parents and teachers saying two days into these longer days, the youngest learners are struggling especially hard. 

"They go to school from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with one lunch and a snack," said Kindergarten teacher Soraya Valedon. "The next day, they are tired."

Two weeks ago, Superintendent Ed Graff left the school board meeting when students started shouting profanities over this same issue.

"And if you are willing to stop a conversation because you don’t like the way you are being talked to, then you are not an educator," said teacher Leah Laurent.

Any change needs to be worked out between the board and the union. Board chair Kim Ellison told FOX 9 that they have been talking to union representatives and are hopeful they can make the modifications the students are asking for.