Teacher Raises for Longer School Days?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    CPS officials plan to extend the school days by 90 minutes and the school year by two weeks beginning in fall 2012. (Published Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011)

    Chicago Public School officials on Tuesday launched plans to extend school days by an additional 90 minutes and the school year by two weeks next year.

    If teachers agree to work the longer day, CPS schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard said he would consider a 2 percent raise for elementary school instructors.

    Brizard told the Chicago Sun-Times he is willing to "trade off" on raises for this school year in exchange for the longer day. The raises would cost about $30 million.

    An advisory committee will be created to figure out how longer school days will be implemented.

    But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she would decline an invitation to serve on the committee, stating that schools days and school years will not solve the real issues that Chicago students face in the public school system, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    The move by CPS is a big win for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has pushed for the longer school days since his campaign. He's often said that Chicago's school day is the shortest in the nation when compared to the school systems of nine other large cities.

    But for most of the hundreds of Chicago Teachers Union delegates who met Tuesday afternoon, the idea of a longer school day and school year with no additional pay doesn't sit well.

    "I don't think it's going to happen because if you can't compensate people, you can't really expect people to work for free," said teacher Final Burrell.

    Union leads said that making teachers work more for no extra pay amounts to a pay cut.

    "It represents for us a 28 percent pay cut. You're asking people to work harder, work longer, be held more accountable and get paid a lot less.  Does that seem fair to you?" questioned CTU staff coordinator Jackson Potter.

    In June, school reform legislation was passed allowing the district to implement a longer school day in the fall of 2012 with or without the support of the union. CPS officials seem to be moving forward with the process.

    The extra time will be used for reading, writing, math, science and social studies, and more time will also be allotted for physical education, art, music, library time and recess. Teachers will also be given more time to plan and collaborate.

    The district will launch an advisory committee comprised of parents, teachers, students, faith leaders and community groups. They will offer recommendations on the extended day's structure and its implementation.

    The district is looking at the best practices in the city and nationwide.

    District training for the longer school days will start as early as this September.