The battle is heating up over longer school days in Chicago Public Schools, but the teachers union president said teachers aren’t fighting the longer day.
Monday, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard told FOX Chicago News that the administration expects to win a court ruling in support of longer days at schools this year and said the longer day is needed.
“It’s going to go to the attorney general and we expect to end up in court to resolve this issue. We’re confident we're going to win this because we followed the law and followed the contract. But when you look at the reports and the issues we have on the far South and West Sides of the city, we have so much work to do. How can anyone argue about putting kids in front of a teacher for a longer period of time?" Brizard said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel at an unrelated press conference Monday touted a Sun-Times cover story that showed top suburban schools all have longer school days , holding up the paper and calling it his “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis joined FOX Chicago News to talk about the issue, and said the teachers aren’t fighting a longer day – they’re fighting for “equity” and resources.
“The longer school day is coming next year; we still have a contract that’s based on this year. This is a distraction, what we really need is a Marshall Plan for education. We need to look at the curriculum. We need to look at how resources are spent across the district,” Lewis said.
Lewis cited schools lacking libraries and other library branches around the city being shut down as administration policies opposed by the teachers union.
Although parents support the longer day, Lewis said those studies also show that parents believe the longer day should have a “rich curriculum” and teachers should be compensated.
As for why the debate between the union and the administrators is so tense, Lewis cited the political control of schools.
“Politicians have different functions than people who actually do education, so you’re going to see that tension,” Lewis said.
The report cited by the mayor said the 10 highest-ranking elementary schools in Chicago suburbs have longer days for students than the typical CPS operation.
The current Chicago Public School day is about five hours and 45 minutes, while the top-scoring suburban schools averaged six-and-a-half hours a day.
Emanuel would like to see Chicago kids in school even longer, for seven-and-a-half hours a day.