Teachers union reveals plan for longer school day

Sept. 13, 2011 (CHICAGO)

News of the plan came as union president Karen Lewis and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard faced off on the same stage Tuesday night.

Lewis and Brizard sat close together but the two are miles apart on the big issues.

"All things being equal, the longer school day is much better," said Brizzard.

"No lie zone, come on, we're having a no lie zone. There was no significant difference in that study," Lewis countered.

The Chicago Teachers Union's counter-offer to the mayor's desire for a longer school day would required a lot of cash. Their proposal would add 75 minutes to the school day but not add an extra minute to the workdays of individual teachers. Instead the union suggests hiring new teachers for physical education, music, art, science and world languages. Those new teachers and topics would fill the extra time.

"I'm tired of people saying you can't throw money at a problem to solve it. Yes we can and yes we have to," said Lewis.

Also on Tuesday, new information emerged about the four-letter fracas between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the teachers union president in his City Hall office. The mayor is said to have used the F-word when pushing his plan during a heated exchange.

"This is obviously a demonstration and illustration of who he is. That's what that is," said Lewis.

"My view is this is a distraction from the major issue which is getting the kids an education and time in class learning," said Emanuel.

But sources say she too screamed and swore during the meeting, something she doesn't deny.

"I did not, um, I did not take it. Let's put it that way," said Lewis when asked if she cursed back.

While the City Hall swearing match is little more than a sideshow, it is demonstrative of the passion on both sides.

In terms of actual negotiations, Lewis and Brizard said they do more text messaging with each other than actual talking.

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