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Remember, CPS recently rescinded the scheduled raise to take effect this school year—Brizard said CPS did not have the money to give the teachers the previously agreed upon pay raise.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.