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City Council backs longer school day

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel racked up a pair of additional victories in his push for a longer school day Thursday.

His office announced early in the day that 81 percent of teachers at Benjamin Mays Elementary in Englewood voted to add 90 instructional minutes to the school day there. Mays joins three schools that voted last week to extend their day.

And during Thursday’s City Council meeting, aldermen passed a resolution calling for Chicago’s school day to be “increased as soon as possible.” The resolution touted charter school successes and said adding class time would “repurpose the school day,” allowing for more time on core academic subjects as well as gym, lunch, recess, art and teacher planning time.

More on longer school days

The resolution was another blow to the Chicago Teachers Union. It was introduced by Ald. Latasha Thomas, 17, whom the CTU endorsed in the last election.

The CTU rejected an offer two weeks ago to add 90 minutes of class time to all elementary schools in exchange for two percent raises for teachers.  Since then, the school district has encouraged teachers at individual schools to vote to extend their day—it’s offering financial incentives for those who do:  $150,000 for the schools, plus $1,250 cash for each teacher.

In a written statement, the CTU blasts aldermen for bowing to what it says is a

“well-orchestrated propaganda campaign that has no scientific evidence to show that this will do anything to improve the quality of education in our neighborhood schools. It is shameful that not one politician stood up for our students and teachers who deserve better.  A longer school day is inevitable but how will it be funded and how will it be planned? The Chicago Teachers Union supports a longer school day if it's also a better school day.  Our concern is about quality not quantity. We do not want our teachers and paraprofessionals coerced and bullied into signing away their contractual rights in order to get the resources they sorely need.”

Several aldermen urged school officials to work with teachers to come up with the longer day, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman among them.

Late Thursday the CTU filed a complaint challenging the district’s strategy of winning a longer day school by school. It alleges CPS is trying to circumvent the union and negotiate directly with elementary schools.

Contributing: Natalie Moore, LaCreshia Birts


A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the 46th Ward Alderman as Marc Kaplan instead of James Cappleman.

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