Teachers’ Unions

Chicago city schools have received a lot of press attention lately due to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push for a longer school day. Mayor Emanuel wanted the teachers’ union to vote to implement longer school days for the current school year. However, that action was voted against in the teachers’ union because the teachers felt it would be a violation of their contract. And, indeed, it probably would have been. As teachers, we are constantly being asked to do more, increase hours, etc. with no increase in pay.

However, some individual schools chose to have the teachers at that specific school vote on whether or not the school day should be lengthened at that specific school. Thirteen schools have already implemented a 90-minute longer school day. Chicago has one of the shortest school days and shortest school years among major cities in the nation.

How can a teachers’ union help in this case? Help comes in the form of people, such as the Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who made sure teachers’ voices were heard among the cacophony of cries to lengthen the school day. Teachers had the opportunity to voice their opinions, and at some schools, teachers chose to vote to lengthen the school day.

A longer school day is not the issue at stake here, however. The issue is making sure that educators’ rights are protected and that, at the end of the day, students are also receiving the best possible education. Another debate on lengthening the school day is imminent.

For a recent article on the lengthened school day debate in Chicago, click here.


5 thoughts on “Teachers’ Unions

  1. I think the real problem here is not the amount of time most kids spend in school, but when we spend it. The long summer breaks, as much as we all enjoy them need to go. We should have four 2 week breaks after every 9 weeks of school. This would allow plenty of time for vacations all through the year and traditional holidays like Christmas and 4th of July. Additionally, starting school before 8 a.m. is just dumb. Many schools start too early in the morning when kids brains simply don’t function well. If the entire country adopted this as a norm, our kids would get a much better education with fewer gaps.

  2. Interesting point @teach_j. Many schools in Chicago are track E schools and have gone to this year-long schooling model that you suggest. They are in the 2nd or 3rd year of the year-round schooling.

  3. Fresno gave up on all its year round schools after about 12 years. It does not work. It does not make for better students. It wears out the teachers and it wears out the schools. There is just never any time to properly maintain them. It’s confusing for those with kids at traditional schools, like high schools, as well as year round schools. It will be almost impossible to change to year round schools for high schools due to sports and college admissions. Although it sounds good in theory, in does not work in practice.

  4. @Delaine Zody: How long ago did Fresno have year round schools? Just curious. In Chicago it works out that the Track E schools still get out the same time in June as the rest of the schools, but go back one month earlier in August. They still get a fairly substantial 5-6 week summer break. Other smaller breaks throughout the year are 2-3 weeks.

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