Lewis, CTU respond to Emanuel's continued slanders against Chicago teachers with new study showing how long teachers actually work

Less than two hours after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did his pirouette around the question of how long the CPS school day would be (without having gotten his appointed Board of Education to even change the policy it has passed a few weeks earlier), Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis continued the union's defense of teachers and improving the city's real public schools. The union's press conference took place at the union's Merchandise Mart offices at 1:00 on April 10, 2012.

University of Illinois Professor Steven Ashby explains the report issued by the university's Labor Education Program entitled "Beyond the Classroom, an analysis of a Chicago public school teacher's actual workday..." during the April 10, 2012 press conference at the union's headquarters. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Surrounded by retired Chicago teachers, all of them veterans of decades in the city's classrooms, Lewis told reporters that she viewed Emanuel's earlier announcement as a tiny step, but that the problem hadn't been solved because the mayor and his appointed school officials, led by Jean-Claude Brizard, continue teacher bashing and attacks on the union.

Lewis's remarks, which she presented to the press, are available on the union at the union's website, www.ctunet. com. A video has also been posted there.

The remarks, without the reporters' questions or the remarks of Dr. Ashby, follow here:

CTU President Karen Lewis' Remarks at the April 10, 2012 press conference

Once again, the Chicago Teachers Union has proven correct—the longer school day is a political slogan and not an education plan. Parents, teachers and community leaders across Chicago have been unanimous in saying we want a better school day for our students, not just a longer one.

Now that the Mayor is starting to listen to parents, teachers and research regarding the pitfalls of the longer school day program being pushed in school districts across the country, it is now time he used both ears to hear EVERYTHING we are saying about the types of schools our children deserve. It is not the length of time but the quality of time that truly matters here.

Today the Mayor moved his toe a half an inch from the starting line. He needs to do more. He has to listen with both ears.

The CTU commends this growing coalition parents for being vigilant in their fight to strengthen the quality of education their children receive. But the mayor still needs to tell us how he intends to pay for this. He should hold a news conference and announce how he will fund the art, music, physical education and world language instruction needed to give our students the world class education they deserve.

It is somewhat interesting who he is starting to listen to:

When one group of parents advocate to save their schools from closings; turnarounds and other bizarre CPS actions, their voices are called “noise” and he and his handpicked Board ignores them all together… walks out on them as they plead and cry for resources…

Another group of parents advocate for a more sensible extended school day program for their children and their voices are given consideration, yet he still marginalizes them rather than fully engage them

But more importantly we join with these parents who have questioned what the “longer day” and “longer year” will actually look like in both elementary and high schools. Teachers maintain it is not about the quantity of education but the quality that matters.

Our students deserve smaller class sizes, a robust, well-rounded curriculum, and in-school services that address their social, emotional, intellectual and health needs. They deserve culturally-sensitive non-biased and equitable education, especially students with IEPs, emergent bilingual students and early childhood children. And all of our students deserve professional teachers who are treated as such, fully resourced school buildings and a school system that partners with parents.

I’m joined here by Dr. Steven Ashby, clinical professor in the Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has co-authored a major study that examines the actual length of a Chicago Public School Teacher’s actual workday. And we would hope the mayor, the CEO, and members of the Board of Education take the time to read this groundbreaking report, so they can make better informed decisions as it relates to our students and those who educate them.

Before we hear from Professor Ashby on what’s he’s discovered, I do want to say something about the Mayor’s Announcement today:

Our members remain disturbed at the Board’s bullying behavior that suggests teachers aren’t working hard enough or long enough to help our students grow. But we know better. When I was in the classroom –just a year and a half ago— I worked well beyond my 7 hour work day.

So let me commend Professor Ashby and his colleagues for their groundbreaking work on teachers’ actual workday, and with that I’ll turn it over to him before I take questions.

A PDF of the complete study is available through the CTU website. The press release summarizing the findings of the study by Dr. Bruno and Dr. Ashby is reproduced below here:


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The claim that Chicago public school teachers aren’t working enough hours during the school day are unwarranted at best and intellectually dishonest at worst, according to research from a University of Illinois labor expert.

The contentious debate between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis over the length of the school day has focused on Chicago public schools having the shortest official day of any major city – 5 hours and 45 minutes for elementary school students, and 6 hours and 45 minutes for high school students. But Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois, says when you account for time outside of the contractually obligated instruction, a teacher’s day is almost twice as long.

“We wanted to show just how long, and just how many actual working hours, are involved in being a K-12 teacher in the Chicago Public School system,” Bruno said. “What we found is that teachers are spending almost 10-plus hours per day at the school, and then putting in roughly another two hours at home. So their workday is absolutely not 5 hours and 45 minutes but almost twice that – and that’s not even including weekends.”

Bruno, Steven Ashby, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois, and Frank Manzo IV, a research assistant and graduate student at the University of Chicago, are co-authors of a paper that surveyed 983 Chicago Public School teachers. The study profiles a teacher’s standard school-day workload and the time they devote to the job.

The findings include:

Teachers work 58 hours per week on average during the school year.

Teachers work for 10 hours and 48 minutes on average during a standard school day, and spend almost an additional 2 hours working at home in the evening.

Teachers work another 3 hours and 45 minutes on school-related work over the weekend.

“It’s a 58-hour week, which is over 800 hours a year beyond what is contractually obligated,” Bruno said. “Teaching in a Chicago public school is well beyond a full-time job.”

Teachers also spend an average of 12 days during summer break doing at least one school-related activity, and an additional 30 hours of professional development training while the school year is not in session, according to the research.

The study also analyzes how teachers’ in-class hours are allocated.

“It’s a workload study, looking at activities, but also measuring time allocation, so people can see what really is a claim against teachers’ time,” Bruno said. “Everyone knows a teacher’s role goes beyond classroom instruction. We wanted to quantify how much beyond instruction that role extends.”

According to the research, less than half the time in a day’s work is actually given to instruction. Teachers spend just over 3 hours each day performing non-teaching related activities, including behavioral management; speaking to students about a personal or family-related problem; communicating with parents; sorting data; setting up or taking down classrooms; and in meetings with administrators and planning with colleagues.

Other non-teaching duties that could be performed by a teacher’s aide – hall duty, bus duty, cafeteria and detention – also account for a significant portion of a teacher’s non-instructional time.

“The big issue is that there’s actually insufficient time given to classroom instruction,” Bruno said. “Too often teachers are working without support from teacher’s aides and other administrative personnel. As a result, much of the work imposed on a teacher draws from the time designed for reading, writing and math.”

From the research, several recommendations are made, including:

Teachers should be the primary voice in determining how school time is used.

Teachers should be released from other non-instructional time-consuming duties while increasing the time spent on actual instruction.

An appropriate increase in pay for any expansion of the official school day.

Based on the results of the study, Emanuel’s idea of adding another 90 minutes to the school day would not produce positive educational outcomes. In order for that to work, teachers would need more resources, Bruno says.

“For the teachers, the problem isn’t the length of the day,” he said. “The bigger question is, what are you actually going to do with the content of the day? A certain percentage of that is going to go toward behavioral management, emotional needs, handling data and paperwork. What are you going to end up with? Another 15 minutes of instruction? That’s not going to get you anywhere. You wouldn’t get a higher performance in the STEM subjects unless you dealt with things like the children’s emotional needs and behavioral management issues.”

According to Bruno, the study also draws from a field of research that looks at time-intensification in the labor process – how workers are forced to multi-task, what happens when they’re forced to rush to do work, and how they perform after more and more demands are placed upon them.

“The results are that they don’t perform at their highest level, and they certainly have higher levels of stress and burnout and job satisfaction,” he said. “So if you’re going to demand more of the teachers, you can’t do it by simply adding more minutes onto the day. It’s a much more complex issue.”

The burnout rate of public school teachers in Chicago is higher than usual, Bruno notes.

“The turnover rate is almost 50 percent of faculty within 5 years,” he said. “Nobody ever quite steps back and says, ‘What are we doing to these teachers in this 5-year period that’s generating such turnover?’ One of the recommendations we make is for an examination of the impact of nearly 60-hour workweeks on teacher stress, creativity, job satisfaction and turnover.”

Robert Bruno page:

Steven Ashby page:


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