With Chicago students back in school, it is great to see the conversation shift away from the conflict that ensued to the gift of more and better learning time for Chicago Public Schools . Peter R. Orszag, vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup and Time to Succeed signatory, admits today in Bloomberg that while the gift of more time may not be immediately felt by the students, students in Chicago will be more productive workers tomorrow because of the increase of time they will spend in the classroom today. 

In his feud with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a major victory for Chicago’s students: increasing the amount of time they spend in the classroom.

Admittedly, the students might not immediately appreciate the gift Emanuel has won for them. But a growing body of evidence suggests that more time at task is crucial to improving educational performance.

For elementary-school students, Chicago’s school day will increase from five hours and 45 minutes — the shortest of any major city in the U.S. — to seven hours. In addition, the school year will be extended from 170 days to 180 days. All told, the amount of time elementary-school kids spend in school will increase by almost 30 percent. Timothy Knowles, the director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, says that no other large U.S. city “has added this much time to the school day and year in one fell swoop — particularly in such economically tough times.”

Read his entire article here