Survey supports longer days for CPS

September 28, 2011 4:00:56 PM PDT
As the debate continues over longer school days for Chicago Public Schools, a study indicates more support for the plan, which was implemented in six more schools this week.

The issue, to which the Chicago Teachers Union is opposed, is up for discussion at the Chicago Board of Education's meeting on Wednesday.

According to the report by parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand, 68-percent of parents and teachers from 230 city schools support a longer day. The survey also shows that about 43-percent of the more than 1,200 people surveyed also support making the school year longer.

"We are on this extended a task force from CPS. We plan to bring the results back to them. We want it to influence the people who make the decision," Wendy Katten, Raise Your Hand co-founder, said.

The survey also indicated that while there is support for the longer day, parents and teachers prefer a 6 1/2 to 7 hour day over the 7 1/2 hour day CPS wants. Six CPS schools voted against their unions to join the extended hour program on Monday, adding 90 minutes to the class time.

"Our studies came out with the exact same thing," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said. But she argues "a longer day cannot be just more of the same."

"We are not happy with the process of negotiating. We have a real problem with it being not in good faith. It is very clear this administration has no interest in really working with us," Lewis said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the extended hours a step toward improving student performance. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard created incentives for the 90-minute extension, which includes a 2-percent teacher salary bonuses and up to $150,000 in school discretionary money.

CPS officials said they and the union are heavily involved in talks.

But appearing before the school board Wednesday, the teacher's union president accused CPS of campaigning rather than educating.

"I think it's extraordinarily important that we get beyond slogans and we go into detailed plans because that's where the real work is," union president Karen Lewis said.

After the meeting, teachers took to the streets, accusing CPS of union-busting by letting teachers at individual schools vote on the longer day issue. At one of the schools, Nash Elementary, the union says CPS knowingly broke rules.

"Because that was a 14-14 tie, and they found somebody from a different union to come in and cast a deciding vote," Lewis said. "So we have some real issues with what happened at Nash."

The union says CPS is trying to pit teachers against each other, something the mayor took issue with today at a separate education event...

"Let me tell you what's decisive," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "not giving kids a chance at more reading, more math."

At today's school board meeting, at least one CPS parent called on both sides to tone down the rhetoric.

"I mean the children come to school to learn, and they learn both from what they learn in a book, but as well as they learn from the behaviors and the role models that sit within the school system," parent Leonard Rau-Skinner said.


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