Mayor pushes for longer days at charter schools

October 27, 2011 2:46:54 PM PDT
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is offering cash incentives to charter schools in an effort to add 90 minutes of classroom time to their days.

The mayor's campaign for a longer day began with 13 Chicago public schools-- but it hit a roadblock when the labor relations board ruled in favor of the Chicago Teachers Union. Now, the mayor is offering charter schools a deal to extend the day. The union says all schools should get more resources, not just the ones that agree to a cash deal.

Mayor Emanuel's not giving up. Almost two months in to the school year, he's making $5 million of Chicago Public Schools money available for 42 charters to extend their school days by 90 minutes. Thirty-two of the schools are interested, Mayor Emanuel said.

"We have been cheating our children of their future. Year in and year out, and that's coming to an end," Emanuel said.

The timing of the offer comes after the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board ruled that the way CPS implemented a longer day for 13 schools was illegal. T he ruling was a victory for the Chicago Teachers Union, which is why the union says the mayor turned to charter schools in the middle of a school year. Charters employ non-union teachers.

"I think it's bad planning to be doing this on the fly. I think it has more to do with politics than instructional policy," Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union vice president, said.

"It wasn't about this tact or that tact at charters. It's about Chicago's children," Emanuel said.

Next year, all Chicago Public Schools will be extended 90 minutes. While the mayor says there is no time to waste this year, the union says slow down.

"More time for instruction carefully with the people who actually do that instruction. There needs to be a high quality day, and the Chicago Board Of Education should obey the law," Sharkey said.

While the union is using the law to fight the implementation of longer days, the mayor says going through the courts is expensive but cheating kids out of a longer school day is even more expensive.

If charters choose to extend their day, they can use the money CPS is offering any way they want.

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