Chicago offers 2% raise for longer school day

Chicago Public Schools plans to add 90 minutes to the school day and two weeks to the year. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she won’t serve on the advisory committee. “This news has nothing do with helping our children and everything to do with politicizing a real serious problem,” she said in a written statement.

Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard offered a 2 percent raise for elementary teachers, if the union agrees to longer K-8 school days in the coming school year. The union had agreed to accept a 2 percent raise.  This proposal amounts to a 28 percent pay cut, teachers complain.

Chicago’s school day now runs from 9 am to 2:45 pm, one of the shortest in the country. Rahm Emanuel, the city’s new mayor, made extending the school day a campaign pledge.

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  1. I was a little sympathetic to the teachers until reading that the current school day is 45 minutes shorter than elementaries where I live.

    Maybe a compromise could be reached in lengthening the school day…maybe not ninety minutes…but perhaps and hour.

    While I do think lengthening the school day might be helpful for children from disadvantaged backgrounds….you have to fix the other things that aren’t working as well.

  2. I too was sympathetic until I saw 9 to 2:45. Currently, the elementary schools in my district go from 8:10 to 3:10. The schools there should definitely increase the school day. If someone calculates the current hourly wage for some of the Chicago teachers under the current system, I’d imagine there would be some shock.

  3. Elementary schools in the Diocese of Los Angeles are moving to a 200-day school year. The parents will pay an extra month’s tuition that will cover the extra pay for the teachers. In at least some of the schools, it’s meant a boost in enrollment.

  4. I, too, had the first thought, Oh, NO! Until I read that the day really is a LOT shorter than most teachers’.

    There is, however, a limit to the time that we can EFFECTIVELY teach. If the school wants the kids to be in school longer, then they need to look other possibilities:

    – bringing in part-timers for early-morning/afternoon tutoring
    – moving to a 4-day week, with the 5th day for those at-risk students to get help
    – year-round school (I’d personally HATE this option)
    – looking at the current school day, and cutting out non-academic fluff (that’s the business solution – do more with what you’ve already got)

    To some extent, the fatigue of teachers (I know I’m tired at the end of the day) is a factor of the aging of the teachers. As more of the staff is at the high end of the experience spectrum, expect them to wear out more easily. There needs to be an influx of younger teachers – they just have more energy (please, no objections that YOU personally run rings around the kids – you’re still likelier to have less energy than you did 20 years ago). Fatigue is common in the post-menopausal years, which is where many of us are.

  5. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Except that the kids who most benefit from the longer day are the ones who NEED the “non-academic-fluff.” And Chicago already has almost no recess. So a longer day should have more recess, more arts, more chess club and debate team.

    Back to the “May I have some more” article– the higher SES kids are going to get the ‘fluff’ anyway– their parents will bother to take them to the free CSO concerts in Millenium park, to listen to WFMT (awesome station and available online for those of you out of the listening area, BTW– a Classical/jazz/folk station not affiliated with NPR–the talk shows are all music history and criticism!), take advantage of the museums, festivals, and cultural opportunities that Chicago has to offer. So, for the higher SES families, there’s probably MORE benefit from the shorter day and shorter year. (In college I used to get paid to take working parents’ kids to museums and book signings!)

    On the other hand, the lower SES kids aren’t getting any of that stuff because “going to the Art Institute” is as alien to their families as “going to Hawaii,” even though the art institute is just a few hops on public transit away. And, (like I said in the More, please thread) while you can’t force kids to like art and music and whatnot, it might be helpful to expose the classes to it so it reaches the few who WILL reach for bigger things.

    And the Chicago museums all have “outreach to school:” programs where they will basically bring a mini-museum to the classroom. So, for a teacher coping with longer days and more weeks, one answer might be to bring the “fluff” back into the class, and to have visitors come in and talk about arts, culture, their careers, etc. etc. etc.

    Also, I guess you can always fall back on good old fashioned National Geographic documentaries— I learned TONS from those as a kid!