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.