Friday, October 21, 2011

The Short of It: Longer School Day Program Halted

Chicago has one of the shortest school days in all of the United States.
The bell ringing with just 5.14 hours of instruction per day, Chicago school systems have been under fire since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office and started campaigning to add ninety more minutes to the public school day.
All in all, thirteen schools agreed to the new system, and slowly have been easing into the new school day (which allows a 30 minute recess most elementary students have never had the luxury of seeing).

That is until today when the Illinois Educational Labor Relations board sided with the Chicago Teacher's Union to halt the implementation of the longer school day.

Rhee's Time Cover
The fight between Labor Union and School System seems to be representative of something larger within the school system.

 Think back a couple of years, when Michelle Rhee was blowing up the cover of Time magazine, saying forget tenure, teachers should be paid according to student achievement and accountability should be taken top to bottom. In her reign as Chancellor of the D.C. public school systems she closed twenty-three schools, fired thirty-six principals, and cut one-hundred and twenty-one office jobs. Rhee was heavily criticized during this time period, but continued to fight for tenure and teacher compensation reform. In 2010 she awarded up to 20% pay raises of $20,000-30,000 to teachers who fostered "strong student achievement."

I can't help but draw correlations between this present school-day legislation and the shocking approach Rhee took to "cleaning up" schools in 2007.
To what degree do we care about teachers' rights as union members? When do teachers stop being union members and start being the driving educational force of students' futures? How do we reconcile the two? As Chicago- Americans, we are in the heartland of Union support. But, we are also in the heartland of poor testing, enrollments, and overall academic turnout.

How can we think about labor and education relating to one another?

What do you guys think? Feel free to comment!

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