Sunday, September 04, 2011

Teachers at 3 small schools act early to approve longer school day

Re. the fight to extend the Chicago school day, it's good to see Rahm Emanuel and JC Brizard pushing for what is right, even in the face of union obstinance:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard landed a pre-Labor Day body blow in the fight over longer school days, getting three small CPS elementary schools on Friday to sign waivers opting out of their teachers union contract and extending their school day 90 minutes.

The teachers will be rewarded with bonuses and the schools with discretionary funds for agreeing to the changes before a new state law allows CPS to institute a longer day without union agreement.

The votes are "a historic step forward in bringing the kind of change we need in the classroom to help our children get the world class education they deserve," according to a written statement issued by CPS and attributed to Emanuel and Brizard.

But Chicago Teachers Union officials — surprised by the action — reacted with outrage. Vice President Jesse Sharkey said CPS was being "unbelievably arrogant" in pushing the waivers, in effect circumventing the collective-bargaining process.

"This is the kind of policy that says we're going to ignore all that, pretend that it doesn't exist, and go directly to anyone they can," Sharkey said. "I'm flabbergasted."

…But Sharkey said the process demonstrates disrespect for a union that has stood for 74 years and represents nearly 30,000 members.

"We have had no communication with the Board (of Education), we have not seen what was voted on out in the schools, nor have we had a chance to talk to our delegates in these schools," Sharkey said. "This is a bad example of political football school reform.

"It's the worst kind of idea about how to improve education."

He said getting small groups to approve a plan and then announcing it in a news release was a bad precedent.

"Trying to go around and avoid having conversations with the people that do this work is bad policy, and we wish Brizard would stop it," he said.


Teachers at 3 small schools act early to approve longer school day

By opting out of union pact, teachers will get bonuses and schools will get discretionary funds

9:48 p.m. CDT, September 2, 2011

Tribune reporter,0,1194505.story

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