Teachers have gone rogue at three CPS campuses, voting today to defy their union and give students longer school days.
The School Board has not been able to get the Chicago Teachers Union to extend the day system wide. Union officials call Friday's move an insult, and claim the teachers at the three elementary schools were coerced.
The CTU calls this a slap in the face.
Teachers at Genevieve Melody Elementary, Skinner North Elementary and Stem Magnet Academy voted to extend the school day by 90 minutes.
They voted this morning and said the change could take effect later this month.
On a weekend where America will celebrate workers and unions, teachers at three Chicago Public Schools said yes to extending the school day, going against their own union.
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said no schools have been pushed or prodded into accepting a longer school day this year.
“Several schools indicated to us over the last several weeks that there is a strong appetite to move toward a longer day because ... they don’t feel they have enough time in the classroom with students and they don’t have enough time for planning and collaboration,” Carroll said.
Carroll said teachers at Skinner and STEM voted to begin the longer day on the first day of school, while teachers at Melody plan to begin in January. The votes also called for teachers to adopt waivers, allowing them to veer from their current contracts.
“They have engaged in no substantive discussion about how planning, about how preparation time, about how school meetings and the other things that need to make about how school will really work well, how any of those things will be handled,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said.
“People have been promised extra pay, even though we don't know what that pay is, people have been promised iPads and this is a concern because this is no way to have a dialogue about how school should work in a system with well over 600 schools.”
When asked if the teachers were promised iPads, Skinner North Principal Ethan Netterstrom said no.
“What I did tell them was you can use the money to buy an iPad for every single kid in the school,” Netterstrom said.
CPS says the schools that supported the longer school day will receive up to $150,000. The teachers at those schools will receive a one-time lump sum payment equivalent to two percent of the average teacher annual salary.
That works out to $1,275 for teachers at Skinner and STEM, and $800 for teachers at Melody, because they are starting later, Carroll said. Skinner and STEM will also each receive $150,000 to help cover the cost of moving to the longer day, Carroll said. Melody is set to receive $75,000, Carroll said.
Some teachers with strong opinions wanted to remain anonymous.
“I am absolutely in support of extending hours, it's baby-sitting…” one teacher said. “If we're actually teaching I endorse it 100 percent.”
Ken Mok, whose daughter attends a CPS school, agrees with adding 90 minutes to the school day but disagrees with how the controversial issue is being handled.
“Maybe they should abide by the union rules before they signed the waiver and extended school hours,” Mok said.
“I think the kids need that extra education,” CPS teacher Erika Stevens-McLin said. “If you do over time, you get paid for overtime.”
“If we can get another 5 hours of service for kids every week this year, that's a lot,” Netterstrom said. “Why should we keep on doing what we're doing just because we're doing it?”
CPS said the three schools that supported longer days could use the incentive money for technology, intervention programs or additional staffing positions.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard issued statements thanking the teachers for their support and commended them for the message they sent to the city.
The School Board and the teachers union have been involved in a high-profile and nasty battle over a longer school day. Last week, the CTU rejected an offer of a 2 percent raise for elementary school teachers in exchange for working the longer day to begin in January.
At the time, CTU President Karen Lewis said teachers would not be “bullied” by public attempts to ram through a slapdash plan. Emanuel and Brizard are eager for the longer day to begin this year, saying students are being cheated — getting 10,000 fewer minutes of classroom time annually than the national average.
A new school reform law gives CPS the power to unilaterally impose a longer school day and year but not until the current contract expires June 30.