Previewing Contract Negotiations

Today's news includes a mix of stories about contract negotiations, school closings, Brizard's performance self-assessment, and proposed gun laws around schools.

CPS contract negotiations unpredictable Tribune:  As Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union sit down to negotiate an expiring contract, a new mayor, new union leadership and new state legislation make it tougher for teachers to strike.

Deal set to end Zion-Benton teachers strike Sun Times:  A deal has been reached to end the teachers strike at Zion-Benton High School, and classes are expected to resume Wednesday.

Parents: School slated for closure tried to move students out WBEZ:   At a South Side Chicago school say staff tried to get as many as a quarter of students there to transfer out....

Brizard Grades His Mid-Term Performance Fox: Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard sat down with FOX Chicago News anchor Robin Robinson on Jan. 9, 2012, to share his thoughts about progress at CPS.

Fewer Lawmakers Hand Out Tuition Waivers Fox: Nearly half of the members of the Illinois General Assembly have chosen not to participate in a program that lets legislators waive state college tuition for certain students in their districts.

Proposal would up fines by $3,000 for having guns or drugs near schools Sun Times:  The City Council’s Public Safety Committee approved an ordinance that would impose a new $3,000 fine against anyone convicted of gang loitering, narcotics-related loitering or weapons violations within 500 feet of a school.

DC school scorecards posted online Washington Times:  The Chicago Public Schools website also allows users to compare as many as four schools at a time, while New York City schools post surveys and progress reports about its schools.

Meet Miss Illinois USA: Flossmoor's Ashley Hooks Southtown Star:  Hooks gained experience as an advocate for causes such as pedestrian safety and a universal school breakfast for Chicago Public Schools.

Exposing Urban Kids to the Arts ChicagoTalks:  In 2009, Willis, in collaboration with Aaron Richardson, 29, of the South Side and Bell, 27, also from the South Side, started Lucid Life Works, a nonprofit creative arts organization, as a means to curb violence among teens by [...]

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  • Noreen Ahmed-Ullah got a really solid quote out of CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey and it reveals a great deal. That quote is "If there's something that affects the lives of teachers which is so important that we can't accept it, then I don't think a 75 percent vote threshold is going to be an issue. If the board really wants to make sure a strike is not an issue, they should avoid trying to impose conditions that people working in schools find objectionable."

    Let's stop here for a second, in all prior strike votes there was what was called a strike referendum or authorization vote. The vote decision was based on the members who voted in the referendum, not on the total active teaching membership of the union. The new Act 115 ILCS 5/13 (b) 2.10 reads "at least three-fourths of all bargaining unit members of the exclusive bargaining representative have affirmatively voted to authorize the strike." This means simply that teachers who elect to not vote on the strike issue have effectively by their non-participation in the process effectively voted against striking.

    It also means that if 20% of teachers do not vote at all and only 10% of the teachers who do vote, vote against striking, the vote to authorize a strike fails because only 70% of all bargaining unit member have voted in favor of striking. I think Josh Edelman from Stand for Children explained this directly in his video presentation made at the Aspen Institute this summer. It think it can be argued that this is not really very democratic, but unfortunately this is what the CTU agreed to when the SB7 language was being drafted. In fact I would argue that the language of SB7 in relation to the 75% of membership vote may be even less democratic than the right wing federal Senate Bill 1507 the so called Employee Rights Act introduced by Senator Hatch. That bill correctly opposed by the AFL-CIO would allow non-union employees, including managers, to vote in strike referendums. But even in that bill the authorization of a strike was based on the majority of the voters in the referendum, not 75% of the workforce.

    I do not share Vice President Sharkey's optimism on the 75% threshold, but only time and an actual vote will tell the tale.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Or it won't be an issue because they reach an agreement . . . or has Karen Lewis ruled that out?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I would doubt that the CTU would in anyway rule out reaching an agreement before things got to the point of a strike vote. President Lewis and Vice President Sharkey along with the rest of the union leadership are very bright people. While the CTU leadership has an educational perspective that is different than that of the Board of Education's they are not irresponsible and unaware of the situation they find themselves in. But being able to reach an agreement before September depends on how much the members are willing to give up. Are the majority of members for example willing to work a longer school day for a very small amount of additional money?

    Are teachers willing to accept work rule changes, for example based on SB7 the CPS can has the ability to set class size and it does not have to bargain over this issue. Therefore, at least in theory CPS could propose reducing class sizes in the primary grades and increase them at other grade levels to offset the costs if it chose to do so. All the CTU can do in that situation is maybe to ask for more money for teachers in grade levels that could experience increased size or the hiring of aides over such a class size.

    The best approach would be for the CTU leadership to present the formal contract offered to the CTU before the end of this school year to its full membership for a vote with a recommendation that it not be accepted if the deal is as bad as it is likely to be for teachers. I do not think just going to the CTU house for a rejection vote actually gives the public and the CPS an understanding of the position of teachers. It needs to go to the full membership for a rejection vote.

    Frankly the actual vote on any contract offer presented by CPS to the CTU would provide a picture of where any deal making needs to go. If the deal offered is really bad and 80% vote against it with 98% of the eligible voting staff casting votes then the CTU is in a very strong situation to get a better deal.

    If the numbers in any early vote on a contract proposal are not equal the numbers needed to approve a strike vote then the union leadership really needs to cut the best deal it can fast as possible. Unless it is adopting a protracted struggle perspective where the union plans on operating like the police union did for years with no real contract in place. As I have said I do not share Vice President Sharkey's optimism on reaching the 75% threshold.

    Rod Estvan

  • Why do you assume there will be non-voters Rod?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    In almost every electoral process there are many non-voters, it is normal. Having 80% of the membership cast ballots I think would really be a high percentage voting im my opinion. Karen Lewis defeated Marilyn Stewart by a vote of 12,080 to 8,326, with about 30,000-members able to vote according to the American Arbitration Association numbers as reported in Substance. So the total members that voted in the last election for president was around 68% of the potential voters in that election.

    The last election also generated a lot of interest so overall teachers and non-certified staff should have been motivated to vote, but clearly many did not. So the union is faced with two issues, getting teacher motivated to vote first off and second getting them to agree to vote for a strike second. Not such an easy thing.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, I thought the trailer bill corrected that problem. If it didn't, what did the trailer bill correct?

  • @pureparents: FOX Chicago’s Robinson has been taking a no-nonsense approach to public education in Chicago for a while http://ow.ly/8qf24

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    That's because Robin Robinson sent her daughter to a Chicago Public School! Good for her keeping JC Bizarre (I mean Brizard) on point, but it's going to take a lot more people in the public forum to call attention to the disgrace that funding inequity in CPS has become.

  • The changes approved trailer bill only clarified that only dues-paying members are eligible to vote to strike. The original bill enabled “fair share” members to vote as well, even though they are not considered active union participants. It does not effect the total membership provision of SB7. Fair share members needless to say were not allowed to vote for the president of the CTU, nor were they counted as part of the approximate 30,000 eligible voters in that election.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    This isn't quite right. It goes beyond "dues-paying" members.

    For example, retired teachers and PSRPs (who pay dues, albeit reduced) make up 12% of the CTU membership. The CTU constitution and bylaws prohibits them voting on strike or contract referenda because it doesn't affect them. Further, a good many of them live at least part of the year out of the state and would be unlikely to return to Illinois just to cast a vote.

    On a much smaller scale, people like Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and legislator Monique Davis are dues-paying members (full amount), yet they also don't get to vote on strikes.

    The trailer bill provided that the 75% threshold include only those members who are allowed under our constitution and bylaws to vote the strike question.

    Re: Anonymous "and if you didn't vote, you'd probably get a visit in your classroom from your union delegate."

    If we take a strike vote, I'll make sure the other judges and me deliver ballots to the home of any teacher who is out sick! We *will* exceed the 75% threshold.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    "If we take a strike vote, I'll make sure the other judges and me deliver ballots to the home of any teacher who is out sick! We *will* exceed the 75% threshold."

    Darn tootin'! We WILL exceed the 75% threshold. There may be new rules, but there is a new vibrancy and renewed commitment to unionism among teachers and staff.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    We will exceed the 75%. Many delegates are ready to hold a vote in their schools everyday if we need to in order to get all of our members to vote.

    SB7 legislates the percent we have to get to go on strike. It doesn't legislate how we run our strike votes.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    The language sure doesn';t look like it excludes those people. Maybe that's why Karen Lewis is talking about going to jail.

  • Rod, I get what you're saying, but you are comparing apples and oranges. The election was a one day event. Some teachers were sick that day. Some teachers were busy with students and didn't get a chance to vote. Some teachers didn't even realize an election was taking place that day. I would expect this vote would last a week and if you didn't vote, you'd probably get a visit in your classroom from your union delegate.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    As we all know there are schools where the CTU exists effectively in name only, many first and even second year teachers have no idea who their delegate is in some schools. In other schools that is exactly the opposite situation. How many schools actually have union meetings? We are not talking here about CORE activists, but all teachers including many who see the union as a service provider to them and not as a membership organization. When I taught at Calumet High School we rarely had union meetings and when we did there were never even 20% of the voting union members present at the meetings.

    We also know ASUL schools are also unionized and have a right to vote just like all other schools. Since these teachers are selected after an interview process that includes being a "team" player, a good number of these teachers may just not want to be involved in a strike vote. Then we have some Teach for America selected teachers some of whom have very different perspectives about professionalism than do many traditionally trained teachers.

    If I were to venture a guess I would assume that the CPS team involved in the current negotiations are looking at the strike vote situation in a manner similar to the way I have laid it out. Strategically then the CPS team should refuse to concede much at all in the negotiations because if a strike vote fails the CTU has lost most of its leverage. Because of the way SB7 was written in the situation of an effective stalemate where a strike vote fails, and no contract is accepted by the CTU members, many things can be imposed on teachers during that time. In the military it is called “creating facts on the ground.”

    Simply not voting makes it much simpler for a teacher to effectively vote no without actually doing so. The union and its delegates can't force teachers who chose not to vote to vote. While my comparison using the data on the last CTU major vote is not perfect it is more than any poster has presented in relation to the percentage of voter turnout hat can be predicted for a strike vote.

    The situation the CTU faces is very complex and militancy amongst union activists does not change that situation. The vast majority of the CPS unionized workforce simply wants to go to work, teach children, get compensated as well as is possible, and have their retirement secure. They are not union militants, and they do not turn out to protests. These complex factors have to be taken into consideration in relation to the current negotiations.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, you seem to overlook the fact that for the first time in many years, the teaching workforce is facing an administration that is engaged in an active negative campaign that supports teacher and union-bashing, wants to eliminate tenure, increase charters by closing schools without due process, and is now planning to increase an elementary teacher's workday by nearly 20% without compensation, and threatening our pension systems which is for many teachers the only retirement security they have. Many teachers have woken up to the fact that although we may not want to, we may have to fight this one out with a strike.

    I remember voting on Lynch's first contract proposal (which wasn't nearly as drastic) with a resounding "no" vote, as did enough colleagues to force her back to the bargaining table. So far at my school the 40 minute increase in the high school means that teachers will have to teach 6 periods a day -- potentially an extra 30 students for which they were previously compensated with an extra hour of pay. So what we're looking at is technically a pay cut, while what it really is is a systematic way of reducing the overall work force by 5% to save money for the district, which is notorious for its own dirty history of corruption, mismanagement of funds, and cronyism.

    Although I agree that the statistics make a potential strike vote seem like a challenge to achieve, I have never in 15 years of working in CPS seen such threats to public education as we know it. In voting for our contract, what many of us will be facing is a choice is whether we as teachers will continue to be sheep or if we will stand up and become lions. But we are protesting, marching, and demonstrating on the streets like we never have before -- it's just not covered on the news because the PR machine is stacked against us.

    Time will be the ultimate judge of what we decide to do as a group, but I was one of those passive individuals willing to take the paycheck home and not rock the boat, but I can say that I've been shaken awake and I've hit the end of what I can tolerate from Central Office and the Emmanuel cronies. I doubt I am the only one who feels this way.

    Keep in mind that the "waking of the sleeping giant" of union activism first happened when the CTU establishment was taken over by surprise when teachers elected a union president from a new caucus. Lewis' popularity is due to her intelligence and willingness to be both smart and strategic in the long term. I started working for CPS back when Reece was CTU president and never felt over the next two leaders that the CTU truly had our interests or our backs as teachers and educators until Lewis. You know she is perceived as a real threat to the mayor because she has been under siege since by the anti-union PR machine ever since she took over.

    The rise of CORE was a movement that came swiftly and unexpectedly, but is a testament to the fact that most teachers are bright, educated people who can see the writing on the wall and under good leadership, will take the risks necessary because there are now real stakes over which we are being called to fight. It is difficult to say what the first draft of the contract will finally look like, but it is too early to predict how good or bad it will be. But I wouldn't count the teachers out on a 75% membership strike vote -- not yet.

  • Brizard to Robinson on the longer school day: "Exactly. So that's the gauge that we're using, so the time, the minutes are important, we want to make sure that kids get the right amount, teachers get the right amount too."

    Minutes! How about making sure the minutes for sped in an IEP are delivered? No?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    We have been told by our principal that we have to amend all IEPs/write the new ones to include the 90 minutes. Our principal knows this is illegal. Supposedly, the SPED teachers will be compensated for this extra work. Can we refuse?

    This is a joke because we cannot meet the minutes now. CPS has never worried about the minutes nor has ISBE. Why is CPS allowed to consistently reduce minutes of children who transfer in from other systems?

    We have also been told that if a child has deficit area that he/she cannot receive more minutes in that subject than a gen ed child.
    Where is this written? For example, a child who is below in math can only receive 200 minutes of math instruction because that is what a gen ed child would receive. If the child receives math with his gen ed peers in a departmentalized setting technically we can not pull him out because that is already 200 minutes....this does not make any sense yet it is another oral directive from OSS. The child can not be pulled out at that time because the SPED teacher is servicing the other 20 students on her caseload/workload. CPS continues to undermine SPED teachers who try to advocate for the children.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    "We have also been told that if a child has deficit area that he/she cannot receive more minutes in that subject than a gen ed child."

    This is in direct contrast to what the plan regarding the Longer Day states. On this plan we have show the schedule & subject minutes for 3 different types of students at each grade level. The minutes in a subject are to differ based on the needs of the child. For example, Student 1 may be gen ed standard minutes, Student 2 may be those students who need more help in reading and their reading minutes are to be more than Student 1, and student 3 may need more help in Math and their math minutes should be more than Student 1 and 2.

    Sections 1 & 2 of this plan was to be submitted to the Network Chief by Friday. Because we did not show 3 different student schedules, ours got sent back for amendment.

    Ask your principal to see the Longer Day plan; teacher, parent, and LSC input is required.

  • Intrepid Chicago reporter Megan Cottrell just scored a binding opinion against CPS over their FOIA refusals http://ow.ly/8quxg - can't wait to see what they give her, finally.

  • Marty MGreal snaps the marquee at Kinzie Elementary (which reads "Change This Sign Mr. Morgan") http://ow.ly/8qv0b

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    What does this mean? None of the links work--Kinzie or FOIA.
    Can we just get a few words on these two stories?

  • Does anyone know what changes at the high-school level CTU is pushing for in the new contract?

  • Because I can't get enough of Estvan's insights (posted at Substancenews.net):

    y: Rod Estvan
    CEO Brizard's interview

    Substance as always does pick up on important things and Robin Robinson's interview with CEO Brizard was important. Before I say more, much credit needs to be given to Robin Robinson for her questioning and whether Substance readers agree or not with me I will say Mr. Brizard dealt adroitly with many of the questions given to him.

    I don't agree with some of the CEO's responses, in particular his discussion of the "millions of dollars" poured into Crane and Dyett high schools. Over the years in relation to special education services at these two high schools I have seen zero evidence of massive levels of instructional resources put into these two high schools. Both of these high schools have huge special education populations, Dyett has 25.6% of its population with disabilities and Crane has 25.8% when the average school in Illinois has only 14% of its enrollment composed by students with disabilities.

    But probably the most interesting aspect of the interview was the position CEO Brizard enunciated in relation to one area of CTU/CPS negotiations that are considered now under SB7 to be "permissive" areas subject to bargaining at the determination of CPS. Meaning CPS does not have to negotiate but can impose on the teaching force its position on things like class size and the length of the school day. Here is what he said: "Let's be clear. We don't need to negotiate the time with the teachers union. We have to negotiate the impact of changing the workday (as in, the money they get for it). Money, other kinds of issues, are part of the bargaining, but the time that we're looking to extend the school day, is within our control." He also said that not negotiating on at least the workday's length is a core value CPS will not bend on.

    This was an important public statement and it merits some thought on the part of teachers and some parents who have reservations over the proposed increase in the length of the school day.

    Rod Estvan (he posted this at Substancenews.net)

  • 'He also said that not negotiating on at least the workday's length is a core value CPS will not bend on.'--so screw parents and their desires for thei children. Why does CEO even offer to be 'creative' with this schedule--CPS will do what it wants when it wants. Parents are going to wish CTU goes on strike just to get CPS to listen to them!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Not likely. It seems most parent are with CPS on this one.

  • The majority of parents think that a longer day is a good idea. Most however think 7 and a half hour is too long. Parents whose kids are bussed, parents whose kids have access to after school programs, and a lot of parents of small children think this is crazy. There will be a big fight over this, especially when most of the day isn't used for enrichment, but more test prep.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Does CTU realize that 10 days will be added to the school year?

  • I overheard a group of parents at my kids' school discussing the formation of some kind of "parent's union" whereby they would "strike" over the longer day. They are considering mobilizing large scale across the city and the plan will be to either withhold their children from school altogether or bring them late and pick them up early each and every day, at the number of hours of their choosing. Other than the people at magnets or other selective enrollment schools who could be dropped from enrollment, what could CPS do about this? Pretty much nothing. They could be "dropped" from rolls, but all parents would have to do is re-enroll every so many weeks. It would be a pain but it would make a point.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Just wait parents - longer school day - no extra academic gains - longer work day - no extra pay- have you filled out your Foxconn application yet?

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Why would CPS respond at all? They will just ignore it.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    This statement is NOT true!--"Other than the people at magnets or other selective enrollment schools who could be dropped from enrollment..." Once enrollment is offered by the school and accepted by the parent, magnet or selective enrollment schools CANNOT drop that child unless the parent SIGNS for a transfer out. THIS IDEA OF PARENTS TAKING THEIR CHILDREN OUT AS THEY PLEASE WITH LSD, IT A VALID IDEA-
    CPS leaving parents no alternative, no 'give', since only Chicago's Mayor knows what is best for all of Chicago's children.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    At my kids' neighborhood school, many parents are up in arms about the longer day. We already have an extended day b/c teachers voted over 10 years ago to include recess in the lunch schedule. We are happy with our schedule, our teachers, our principal, and our afterschool programs. Now we are being forced by Rahm/Brizard to keep our kids in school longer than any district in Illinois. Kids who have band before school will now be looking at a 7:30 to 4:00 schedule and that is before any afterschool programs and homework. Who is this reasonable for? There are CPS parents who value "down-time" for their children and who would like to eat together as a family a few nights a week. I can only hope that the 7.5 hour day will get bargained down by the CTU. CTU should be organziing with parents on this one. Let's not let Rahm slide the lies past our city! Name me one suburban district that has a 7.5 hour day for children.

  • In reply to cpsteachermom:

    Sorry, the longer school day (oops! I meant Full Day) is a done deal. The state legislature approved it, it's not negotiable, and the mayoral administration is pushing it forward. It's going to be what Rahm will consider one of the "hallmarks" of his mayoral stint in Chicago before he moves on for a higher office. If the parents want change, then they will have to VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE in three years. Mobilize on that one!

  • In reply to deskjockey:

    We will mobilize to vote him out of office. I can also guarantee that parents will be mobilizing against a 7.5 hour day. The state did not legislate 7.5 hours. That time frame is coming from Rahmzard and it is meant to keep kids off of the street- a fine goal for some neighborhoods in the city. What I think a lot of parents are upset about is that we are all being forced to swallow a 7.5 hour school day for all our kids. It is also ludicrous to think that schools have been "gifted" the honor of figuring out how to lengthen the day by submitting a plan to the area offices by the end of January, yet we have been allocated no additional staff or resources for these plans. In order to have recess and more prep time, schools will need at least 1.5 more teachers. In effect, we are asked to draft a plan that is devoid of financial backing. I will link a QandA the area office sent out to schools regarding how to "plan for the plan." It is unbelievable.

  • In reply to cpsteachermom:

    "Rahmzard" -- I love it! Makes me think of Rahmzilla, or Brizilla...we have to come up with a plan on the HS side immediately as well -- but I call it the "illusion of choice" -- we get to say how it is to be done, but have been told that it has to have A, B, and C involved (and likewise cannot include D, E, or F). I wish I could pack up my family and move out of Chicago for better climes, but unfortunately as a CPS employee (and a lowly one at that) I can't move out of the city and Rahmzilla probably won't give me a "waiver". I sincerely hope that the middle class voting families give Rahm something to worry about with this longer school day thing...but he's too busy stomping around breathing fire to notice that he's going to lose a lot of political support through such inflexible mandates. It's too bad that the Democratic machine set up so many poor alternatives to Rahmzilla in the primaries -- probably to split up the minority voters that didn't like him in the first place. All I can say is I didn't vote for him!

  • In reply to deskjockey:

    I agree. Just looking at the lack of details and planning surrounding the Longer School Day, it seems to me that it's only about headlines and has nothing to do with the schools, students or families. It's been clear since September that CPS doesn't have a plan for the LSD, it's just an idea that they're pushing out. A lot of style but no substance.

  • In reply to deskjockey:

    Just because we may end up with the longer day, doesn't mean parents can't refuse to send their children to a ridiculously long day. Or pull them out of the system altogether. All the parents I know send their kids to the highest performing schools in the system and the majority are against a 7.5 hour day. Many want a 6.5 hour day, with recess and daily PE which is required by state law, but somehow CPS doesn't have to follow that one. If all of us higher income families, with higher performing kids, pulled out of the system, scores would plummet. And if all those families left the city, tax revenues would plummet further than they already have. Sure, the state and Rahm may be able to do whatever they want, but parents have choices. And I can tell you, my family is leaving at the end of the year. We are taking our children and our tax dollars out of the city. We realize the mayor doesn't care about one family. Does he care about thousands? I don't know.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    I don't think there are enough houses for sale in Hinsdale for you and your friends.

  • In reply to cpsteachermom:

    I agree with you cpsteacherparent, my child has music lessons and karate after school three days of the week. We come home complete homework and eat dinner as a family. There are not many "real" parents who want their child/children raised by the school system. You can keep some students at school 12 hours a day and it will not improve their scores, look at how most of the charter schools have performed. Emanuel refuses to address the real issue because its easier to bash teachers.

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    We need to get organized as parents. I don't want CPS "raising" my children. They go to school for an education; I want time for them to complete homework, engage in an extracurricular activity, eat dinner, and converse as a family. Does this not fit into Rahmzard's idea of what is best for Chicago children???????

  • In reply to cpsteachermom:

    Headache 299
    Rahm cares about children and chicago families - that's why he pushed for that big box casino - you know, families that gamble together stay together...

  • Probably not. But there are houses for sale for cheap all over. In good school districts. That don't have average ACT scores of, oh say, 16. Schools in towns that remove gang members. That have reasonable school days, students who behave mostly, and they know that it isn't just the lowest performing kids who matter. In CPS the attitude is, "oh, you're kid who is exceeding standards, they'll be fine" and then they get no real attention. That is partly because class sizes are ridiculous. 33 kids in a classroom? Come on. CPS needs to learn to work with ALL its students, not just the ones getting free lunch and not just the ones who can't read. I am tired of the system making choices for my kids as if their needs are the same as kids from abject poverty. My kids don't need more test prep. My kids don't need remediation. They don't need to be in school for a ridiculously long school day. They don't need to be fed breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which leads me to the conclusion that the CPS system cannot and will not meet the needs of my kids. Or my friends' kids. Why stay in a system that only thinks about the bottom quartile? There are plenty of kids in this city who will be safer in school for nearly 8 hours. And there are plenty of kids in this city who need to be kept in school for that long so they don't hurt other kids. So fine, if that is what kids in some schools need, great, but don't punish the ones who don't need that kind of containment.
    What about all the other kids who are no threat to others? Should they have to suffer or be bored to death with mooooooore reading worksheets because the kids a few miles over are in 7th grade and can't read a 3rd grade text? CPS is not going to fund enrichment or piano or karate or sports classes during this longer day. They are stealing my kids' chance to take those tuition based courses after the school day ends by making the school day go so long. And when you figure the time spent on the bus, it makes for a nearly 10 hour day for them. Stupid, insane and not effective for my children. Time to get out.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Here is a better reason to get out: CPS is being run by City Hall.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    It seems that a school district should be able to accommodate both children who need remediation and those who may or may not be gifted geniuses do not need remediation. Currently there are only 34,320 white students left in the school system, in 2005 there were 36,157 white students. From 2005 to 2011, CPS lost 5% of its white students. If we look at all students regardless of race we find that from 2005 to 2011 CPS lost 5.7% of its students who were above the poverty line.

    Some of this decline in students who are not formally identified as low income probably comes from the increase in unemployment taking some working class families and throwing them into poverty, but some also does come from families just leaving the city when possible or opting into private schools. So it seems if families, particularly middle class white families are upset with the 7.5 hour day CPS should listen up and figure out a way both to provide additional instruction for the many students who need remediation and accommodating students who are advanced or at least testing at standards so they can participate in after school activities.

    The new legislation, SB7, does not require CPS to have a uniform school day for all teachers and all schools. Hence CPS could create different working days for teachers at different schools with different pay scales and it would not have to bargain over that issue under the new law. Clearly there are some teachers who would opt to works at a school with a shorter day for less money because they want to get home with their own children. So I don’t think finding teachers to work at shorter day at some schools for less money would be a problem if CPS were to allow schools some choice in how long there school day was going to be. The problem is CPS is a bureaucracy, in the classic sense of the word, and it has a deep almost pathological need for uniformity despite its claims to allowing autonomy for schools.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Or you could transfer your children to a private school -- lucky for you that you have a choice and an opportunity to move, which is what middle-class families can afford to do when it is time to take advantage of the opportunities that the suburbs can provide.

    To be honest, if you look at how the Illinois system (along with TIF's) continues to grossly underfund CPS students while allowing other wealthier suburbs twice as much money to spend per child, it is easy to see the educational consequences. For example, at the Niles school district they had "budget issues" last year because they were spending about 20K per student...ha ha ha! If only we had those kinds of resources for students in CPS, can you imagine what we could provide?

    But here's the rub: Rahm doesn't give a damn about your opinions or concerns regarding the Full School Day. In fact, he thinks you as a parent ought to be grateful that he is pushing this agenda because he believes that it is going to benefit your child. And if you don't like it, then I'm sure he has an F-bomb to toss your way. And if you move out to the suburbs, then you won't be voting for or against him in three years. So he doesn't care, it's about him getting his way and pushing his agenda forward.

  • [Melody Elementary Principal Nancy] Hanks said she understands, but added, “I need my kids to be able to read. Can you give a little bit of your piano time so that my kids over here on this side of the city can learn how to read?”

    It does seem unfair that we should be asking YOUR kids to give up piano and not kids in Winnetka, Hinsdale, or Naperville

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Not really, because an extra 90 minutes won't really help the kids at Melody.

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