Brizard: CPS teachers should make home visits

June 23, 2011 (CHICAGO)

''Our students go there every single day. So why not?'' he said.

Brizard, speaking at a news conference with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, suggested CPS teachers and staff should be assigned home visits in an attempt to get public school parents more involved in their children's education. About 430,000 students are enrolled in Chicago public schools.

Mayor Emanuel and Brizard visited Marquez Elementary School in the Brighton Park neighborhood. Marquez Elementary is a United Neighborhood Organization charter school that the two look at as a model for expanding the CPS school year.

Marquez Elementary will increase their school days from 175 to 190 days, starting this August.

"Right here in Chicago we are leading by example and UNO is at the forefront of that example," Mayor Emanuel said.

The UNO system will not pay its teachers for any additional days of work and will hold class on current professional development days.

"That's a really important announcement because it's really changing the paradigm as to what is a school year, what is a school day," Juan Rangel, UNO, said.

Brizard and Mayor Emanuel want to see similiar changes in the CPS school system.

"We have about 193 days that schools are open, but only 170 days that kids actually attend schools. So I don't know what happens to the 23 days that kids are not there and the school is open. We have to change that," Brizard said.

Those days are important to teachers, according to Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union, Potter said, "Professional development is a critical part... enables a program that helps students learn. By taking that away, that presents a problem."

Brizard also suggested that, like UNO teachers, CPS teachers and other staff conduct visits to their students' homes.

"We would be open to discussing those things. Nobody's asked us," Potter said.

When asked about if teachers would be expected to visit kids who live in some of the most violent neighborhoods in the country, Brizard said, "Our kids go there every single day. So why not?"

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a written statement Thursday accusing Brizard and Mayor Emanuel of proposing "half-baked ideas to the press rather than sitting down with the people who spend time in the classroom."

Last week, the Chicago School Board voted to rescind on raises for CPS teachers. That decision has been met with protests.

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