Chicago Public Schools’ increase school day by 90 minutes—could result in teachers’ strike

Chicago Public Schools’ increase school day by 90 minutes—could result in teachers’ strike
CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard

Yesterday, the Chicago Public Schools announced its plan for a longer school day.  As a CPS school day stands, when compared to public school children in Houston, by the end of high school students in Houston receive a full four more years in the classroom than CPS students.  Under the new plan, the school day, currently among the shortest in the nation, is to be increased by 90 minutes. Earlier in the year, Governor Quinn signed a law giving CPS the right to mandate an increase in instruction time.  CPS also plans on increasing the school day two weeks.  The increased instruction would begin the 2012-13 school year.    

CPS did not offer a pay increase for the longer school day.  Although, in an effort to get increased instruction this year, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard offered to find money to pay for a 2% pay increase if elementary school teachers increase their day by 90 minutes this school year.

Remember, CPS recently rescinded the scheduled raise to take effect this school year—Brizard said CPS did not have the money to give the teachers the previously agreed upon pay raise. So, this offered pay increase would really give the teachers what was previously agreed to, albeit for working a longer day. 

“We are seriously thinking about what we have to do to get a little more respect,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.  Ms. Lewis said the likelihood of a teachers’ strike is high.    

“It’s not really a fair thing to ask of people.  It represents for us a 28% pay cut so you’re asking people to work harder, work longer, to be held more accountable and get paid a lot less.  Does that seem fair to you,” asked Jackson Potter, a Chicago Teachers Union staff representative. 

Mr. Potter asks a good question and framed that way, it’s not fair to ask someone to work longer and harder for the same amount of money.

Unfortunately, as many of us know in the private sector, employees have been forced to work longer and harder for years without pay increases.  Large companies have found staff levels decrease significantly, while expecting the same output from remaining employees.  Many non-union employees have not seen a raise in years.      

So is what Jean-Claude Brizard asking teachers to do– work longer days without an increase in pay– fair?    Let me know by either commenting or taking the poll.


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  • I received a phone call from a friend asking an excellent question I don't know the answer to: How are Chicago teachers paid? Are they paid on a 12 month cycle? Or are they paid the roughly nine months they work?

    My friend notes that if they are paid twelve months a year, then asking them to work more hours and a longer school year is effectively what most private employees have already been forced to do. However, if they are paid the roughly nine months they work-- that likely changes his opinion on whether teachers merit a pay increase.

    Does it make a difference? The base pay is the same and the issue is whether it comes to teachers over nine or 12 months.

  • In reply to Brian C. Thomas:

    CPS teachers are paid an hourly rate for 6.25 hrs a day. Some of that money is not paid to teachers during the year, but is held back until the end of the school year. In this way teachers get a check all year long, but only earn money during the school year.

  • Here is the link to the Chicago Public Schools collective bargaining agreement as of today. is the teacher union website.

    www. is the school district website.

  • So. Jabba the Precious, aka CTU honcho Karen Lewis, said "no" to Rahmbo. She must've had a brain cramp and thought she was still dealing with the tired old crook who was on his way out. WRONG!
    She's dealing with the hard charging schemer who woke up every day in DC thinking about how to give the finger to al-Qaeda. Does she have any idea that there's a new sheriff in town, and he brought a Haitian voodoo deputy with him?
    I predict a surprise bed companion for the Precious One sometime very soon. Which will it be? The horse's head, or the dead hooker? Either way, her days of feeding on fried Twinkies courtesy of CPS teachers & parents are soon to be over. She's soon to be welcomed by a private sector that has no use for her self important shenanigans.

  • In reply to Johnnnymac66:

    Not quite the way I would have put it Johnny Mac, but keep commenting!! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    And I agree with you-- things are changing at CPS and City Hall. Probably better stated: there is momentum for change at City Hall and CPS. Let's keep watching to see if things actually change.

    Love the Godfather reference. Next time maybe a little Scarface?

  • Thanks for putting that up, coffee!

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    What I find interesting and rather comedic about your response is that you do not take into account that the funding for the schools in this state let alone this country is appalling. Schools are underfunded, teachers are underpaid and education is not take seriously unless its an election year and depending on what news channel you view you may or may not get even half the truth. The truth of the matter is this
    Increasing instruction time does nothing, its a gimmick. Let's face the hard truth, if increasing the instructional period in school was the answer why is that test scores in this country have not really increased all that much? Why is it that in comparing Houston schools to Chicago schools they never ever bring up the fact that Houston schools test scores while rising are still abysmal. Why is it that teachers cannot make a good wage? Why is it that they are the ones being blamed for a lot of the ills in our education system? Tell me when are the parents going to be questioned? How many of them actually read to their kids? How many actually show an interest in how their child is doing? Teachers cannot and should not be expected to do this job on their own. Last time I checked the politicians control how schools are funded how about we actually hold them accountable....FOR ONCE!

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