Brizard, Lewis Share Stage at Education Forum - NBC Chicago
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Brizard, Lewis Share Stage at Education Forum



    Chicago Teachers Union president is fuming because the schools president and mayor have skirted the union's demands for a raise and are striking individual deals with schools for a longer school day. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012)

    Meeting at an education forum at the University of Chicago, both Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new schools chief, Jean-Claude Brizard, maintained they want what's best for kids.

    But agreeing on how to provide that is an issue that wasn't any closer to being resolved Tuesday night.

    "Someone asked me, 'Do you have the same talking points?' because -- " Brizard began.

    "You stole ours, that's why," Lewis said, cutting him off.

    Speaking in front of an audience about 700 people who paid $15 each to attend, the pair debated the push for a longer school day. So far seven schools have waived their bargaining right and agreed to extend the school day by 90 minutes in exchange for $150,000 in discretionary funds and a $1,200 stipend for each teacher.

    "This is illegal behavior. This is one place where he and I are absolutely going to disagree," Lewis told the audience, later calling the changes "union busting."

    Brizard again classified the school and teachers who've agreed to the longer days as "pioneers" and said the movement was "growing organically" in the schools.

    But some parents in attendance said they feared it was their children who were getting caught in the middle of the battle.

    "I feel that our kids are being used as their guinea pigs," one mother said.

    Lewis argues that a longer school day alone will not make children smarter. The union is now circulating memos to schools detailing the reasons why they should not agree to waive their bargaining rights.

    Brizard said that any school whose majority agrees to the extended day will be welcomed. Education Forum Liveblog