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'Short end of the stick': North High students push back on longer school days to make up for strike

North High and Patrick Henry already have longer school days than other MPS schools, but will have to add on the same amount of extra time to make up for the strike.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Longer school days are underway at Minneapolis Public Schools to make up for lost time during the educators strike. 

Fifteen days of instruction time were lost, so five days worth of instruction time will be made up by adding 42 minutes to the end of each school day, beginning April 11. The additional 10 days will be added to the end of the school year, extending it until June 24.

RELATED: MPS to add more days to their school year after a 14 day teacher strike

But North Community High School students are expressing concern over a "one-size-fits-all" approach. The school already goes 30 minutes longer than other schools to fit in more instructional time. For example, most schools get out at 3:00 p.m., while North High goes until 3:30. 

"We've already done our 30 minutes extra, so why can't we just do our extra 12 minutes to fulfill the 42? We just want to be treated the same," said Demetria Jones, the 12th-grade representative. 

The state requires 1,020 hours of instruction. According to the North High student council, with no additional hours added, North would already be above the state's requirements. According to North, with the additional 42 minutes/per day, and going for 165 days, North students will complete 1098.2 hours, which is significantly more than the 1020 hours the state requires.

Patrick Henry High School has the same situation. With 35 extra minutes, it's the longest school day in the district. An additional 42 minutes puts them at seven hours and 47 minutes. 

"It's an inconvenience, especially for students who have jobs and play sports and stuff," said Taylor Butler, a student leader at North High. "I know a lot of parents that work and they depend on their older children to look after their younger children after school."

Student council members have written to the Minneapolis Board of Education with their suggestions, including not adding on more than 12 extra minutes per day. 

You can read their full letter in the comments section of this North High Facebook post

To clarify remaining confusion being expressed around the extended school day & year going into effect 4/11: District &...

Posted by North High School on Friday, April 8, 2022

"People are getting out later, so then they have to be in the sports later, and then we're walking home later. All of this stuff that's been happening with our peer that just passed away — D Hill [Deshaun Hill] — we just can't deal with all of this," said Ramiyah Jackson, student council president.

Jones added, "We already live in a neighborhood where it's not always safe. So to even make kids go even farther into the day, farther into the night where things get even more rowdier, it's not okay." 

Schools will also be getting out 10 days later. 

"How am I supposed to get into an internship when I'm in school?" asked Jackson. 

Jaheim Abdullah, student council vice president, is a senior planning to get a job in the summertime before attending college. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Taylor Butler and Jaheim Abdullah

"It's going to change the hours I'm able to work and how much money I'm able to save to put towards college," Abdullah said. 

In the letter, student council said, "The last two weeks of school should be value-added only. What we mean by this is that grades cannot go down during these two weeks but students can work to bring their grades up. If seniors have passed all required classes for graduation before their ceremony, they should not be required to come back for the last 2 weeks." 

"The ones who are already in the green, they should stay in the green," Abdullah said. 

Patrick Henry's student council is also reaching out to people to see what can be done. 

According to an MPS spokesperson, "The plan to make up for the missed instructional days was negotiated and agreed upon by MPS and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT), ratified by MFT members and approved by the MPS Board of Education. We encourage students and families to talk with their principals if they anticipate having any difficulties meeting the requirements of the extended school day and/or year." 

The district has shared North High's request with the Board of Education. 

"This was between the teachers and the district and it's like we're getting the short end of the stick because of a problem that they couldn't solve," Jones said. "We feel like it's just unfair that us as seniors, and students in general, have to pay for what they've done." 

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