I had a nice long chat with Tribune columnist Eric Zorn last night, a delightful chance to hash out what was going on. I was completely unable to influence his thinking about the current situation facing CPS and CTU, however. As you can see from this blog post, Zorn is pretty much of the mind that CTU is acting like a bumbling stumbling crumbling lump. He describes it as "startling" how badly the union is being beaten by City Hall and the Board. He describes the CTU response to the extended day proposal as "diffuse and inconsistent."
He's mostly right. It's been pretty bad. (Zorn helpfully links to some data that the union could use to raise questions about the extended day plan.) But what Zorn leaves out is just how bumbling and stumbling the Mayor and the Board have been, and continue to be, obscured as this may be by CTU's antics and unimaginative or cowed journalists and commentators.
Just for fun, let's take a look at the bumbling going on from the City Hall side of things: First, the new Mayor and his allies score a massive win with the passage of SB7 but don't get around to rolling out a half-baked longer school day and year proposal until what felt like August but might have been July. Turned down by the union for reasons good and bad a clearly peeved City Hall and the Board decide to roll out this cockamamie effort to win approval for a longer day by getting teachers to vote on it school by school by school.
Seriously, this is perhaps the craziest, most petty thing I've ever seen in big city education reform. (I say this as a fan of a longer day and no great defender of the union.) City Hall doesn't have the money to pay the $72 million. (CTU should call their bluff and endorse the waivers at every school.) City Hall has no real chance of getting more than a handful of schools to agree. (Seven down, 470 to go!) It's a process almost guaranteed to win only a few supporters and disrupt schools just as they're opening. (Pissed off parents, not just scared teachers.) As with other popular ideas like smaller classes, more class time isn't a guaranteed winner when it comes to student achievement. (A new Tribune article notes that the CPS day and year aren't that much shorter than other suburban districts and is no guarantee of better results anyway.)
The only thing that is making this work for the Mayor is that CTU keeps stumbling over itself, reversing positions, mistrusting its teachers, etc. Look past the bumbling union and you might be able to see just how bumbling City Hall and the Board have been acting, too.
Chicago school day not much shorter than some others in state Tribune: This year, [ISBE] has found two dozen districts that incorrectly inflated the length of their school days by either not reporting their shortest days, as required, or by not subtracting noninstruction times like recess and lunch.
Rahm Emanuel right to be a bully about a longer school day Tribune (Mary Mitchell): Teachers should not be made scapegoats for poor-performing schools. But like parents, community, churches and other stakeholders, teachers must shoulder a ..
Rahm earns F for using f-word Sun Times: Saying “F--- you, Lewis” to Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, in a debate over a longer day for Chicago Public Schools? Our mayor must think he's living in a David Mamet play.
Emanuel Thanks Teachers for Support Fox: The second graders at Brown Elementary were proud to show Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel their spelling words on Monday.
Illinois teachers union official blasts CPS longer-day tactics Sun Times: Montgomery called CTU reports about the waiver process “very disturbing.’’