Deal Reached on Longer School Day

A deal of sorts has been reached between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's school board.

For the rest of the school year, the board will end its efforts to convert more Chicago Public Schools to a longer day, and the 13 schools that already added 90 extra minutes won't need to change back.

The deal was reached after an eight-hour meeting Thursday with the teachers union, CPS and Emanuel. Attorney General Lisa Madigan was prepared to file for an injunction to block the school waiver program, CTU President Karen Lewis said.

"I think it's a huge victory for us and a huge victory for the students," Lewis said at a Friday afternoon news conference. She said the settlement puts an end to the board's campaign to negotiate directly with union-represented employees to push through the measure.

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board recently ruled the votes taken at schools that implemented the longer day may have been done so illegally, but the board doesn't want to change back curriculum at those schools, Lewis said.

Emanuel said at an unrelated news conference the board will use the 13 schools to discuss what worked and what didn't to design the CPS-wide longer day.

"We all agreed the energy should not be in courtroom but should be in classroom," Emanuel said.
"The schools, the 13, will be the basis in foundation for all the schools doing it next year."

Earlier this week, the teachers union filed a second complaint against the Chicago Board of Education, alleging the board illegally asked teacher applicants about their feelings on collective bargaining.

Emanuel has given incentives to schools that vote in favor of the extra 90 minutes, stressing the importance of additional class time. But CTU President Karen Lewis has said she wants the school board to slow down and properly plan for what those additional minutes mean for students.

"This means that we can get back to the important work of teaching our students and discussing how to best improve our school day."

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