Union urges participation in Longer School Day committees

Chicago Teachers Union leadership has urged the union's 30,000 members to participate in the committees about the "Longer School Day" being established across the city by the Chicago Board of Education. On December 23, 2011, the union sent an email to its members from Jesse Sharkey, vice president, outlining how the union will participate in the activities. The next union House of Delegates meeting will be held on January 11, 2012 at the usual location, Operating Engineers union hall.

Sharkey's letter:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is creating “Longer School Day Committees” in many schools and has approached our members to join. We urge CTU members to participate on these committees because we want to:

Make sure that teachers and PSRP’s can raise our concerns;

Have a full understanding of CPS’ intentions so we can all discuss them as a union; and,

Make clear to all educators and administrators that we want a better school day, not just a longer one, that will benefit both students and staff.

While we know that circumstances vary from school to school, we should take a unified position on the longer day. Speak out for the kind of day we want, not for the kind of day politicians are promoting. Students and educators alike will benefit from a better day.

Here are a few key ideas that have developed from discussions among our members and staff:

The student day should be 6 ½ hours long in elementary school, 7 hours in high school.

This number is on par with school days in the rest of the country.

Such a day would avoid exhausting young children and still allow after-school activities for all students.

Parents support a 6 ½ hour elementary day.

The student day should include lunch and recess, as well as instruction in art, music, science, social studies, physical education, world language—and students should have access to a library/media center, a nurse, counselors and other needed services.

The teacher day should be no longer than 7 hours and should include both a 45 minute duty-free lunch and at least 75 minutes a day of duty-free preparation time.

These Longer School Day committees should not offer ‘side deals’ about how long the day will be in individual schools—that is a matter for CTU and CPS on a citywide level. Because of changes to the education law in Illinois, the Board does not have to negotiate with CTU over the length of day. However, the Board does have to negotiate with the union over the structure of any day (including prep time, duties, lunch, etc.) as well as how much we are paid.

Enjoy your winter break and holiday celebrations. Let's rest, relax and come back even stronger in the new year.

In Solidarity,

Jesse Sharkey

Vice President


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