Emanuel backs smaller teacher raise for longer school day

August 25, 2011

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(Bill Healy for WBEZ)
Emanuel took questions from WBEZ's Alison Cuddy at a Wednesday forum at the Chicago History Museum.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing a plan to give teachers a small raise in exchange for extending the school day.

Emanuel's schools chief, Jean Claude Brizard, this week said he's willing to give teachers a two percent raise, in exchange for 90 extra minutes in kindergarten through eighth grades. This follows a June decision by the Chicago Public Schools board to cancel a previously negotiated four percent raise for teachers, citing budget concerns.

On Wednesday night, the mayor described the moves as a change from how past negotiations took place.

"The elected officials said, 'I don't want a strike.' Teachers said, 'I want a pay raise.' The adults won, and the kids got left on the side of the road. And I'm not going to be a party to that anymore," Emanuel said.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said earlier on Wednesday that the union will consider the proposal, but chastised district leadership for first proposing it in the media. Brizard floated the idea during an appearance Tuesday on WTTW's Chicago Tonight.

Meanwhile, Emanuel also defended a property tax increase the school board passed Wednesday. He insisted his pledge not to hike property taxes only applies to city government, not the schools.

The mayor's comments came at a forum sponsored by WBEZ at the Chicago History Museum. He took questions for roughly 40 minutes, but refused to take any directly from the crowd.