What's a card-carrying union member CPS parent to think?

As both a CPS parent and card-carrying union member, I'm torn. I think my daughter should have a longer school day, and a real recess. But I also don't think teachers should be asked to work hours that are 29% more for a two-percent increase in pay. What's a card-carrying union member CPS parent supposed to think?

Before my daughter first started at her school, I was on the phone with the office gathering information. (For those of you who aren't regulars here, my adopted daughter just joined us two-and-half years ago.)

I asked questions like, "She'll be starting mid-year, do I need to register her?"  "Is there a dress code?"  "What time does school start?"

"And school gets out at one-forty-five," said the cheerful voice on the other end of the line.

Of course, she was cheerful about it, but I began frantically beating my palm against the receiver of my phone. "I'm sorry," I said. "I think we must have a bad connection, because I swear you just said school gets out at one-forty-five?"

"That's right."

Golly. I'm no expert, but do you think five hours and forty-five minutes of actual classroom time (Wait! Take out twenty minutes for lunch!) might be a contributing factor in the abysmal percentage of high school seniors (7.9%) ready for college? For the low test scores? I don’t know when this short school day began. I doubt it was always this way and if I had to guess, it probably was the solution to somebody else’s budget shortfall.

The school day should be longer. It should include recess.

And yet, think what you want about unions, but it’s wrong for workers to always have to bear the brunt of mismanagement. Teachers work hard at one of the most important jobs there is: teaching our children. I do not begrudge them one nickel of their pay and benefits.

As an airline employee I know all too well that when it comes to the economy, we’re always on the leading edge of the downturn and trailing edge of the recovery. I took a nearly fifty-percent pay cut six years ago and have yet to recoup any of it. (Don’t worry! Management’s been getting nice bonuses!) The teachers union knows what every union member knows, once you give a concession, you’ll have to fight tooth and nail to get it back, if you ever do.

My property taxes are going up and I’m not pleased about that either. Times are tough. We all have to make sacrifices. Let’s hope they all can find an agreeable solution soon, so I don't have to make up my mind what to think, so that in this case the thing that’s sacrificed isn’t the CPS children.

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