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Chicago Sun-Times: Longer school day a bust, teachers union leader says

08/22/2012

Click here for the original post at Sun-Times.com. 

Chicago Teachers Union officials Wednesday charged that nine months of contract negotiations have only produced “very limited progress’’ and so far, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s longer school day is not a better school day.

An 11th-hour longer school day that began in the one third of the system’s schools last week with year-round calendars has been implemented “haphazardly” and “ridiculously,’’ CTU President Karen Lewis said Wednesday at a news conference.

“It is not a better school day yet and if we just leave it up to these guys, it will never be a better school day,’’ Lewis charged shortly before CPS officials gathered for the Chicago School Board’s monthly meeting.

Board members are expected to vote on a budget that has been denounced by civic and advocacy groups for, among other things, draining the system’s reserve funds to help plug a $665 million deficit.

In addition, board members will be presented with a contingency plan on how to keep students occupied in the event that a strike disrupts the Sep. 4 start of school for the most of the system.

Lewis said she didn’t expect the union to issue a 10-day intent to strike notice on Wednesday, but union officials are expected to seek input from delegates during a meeting late Wednesday afternoon at Lane Technical High School on the Northwest Side.

Teachers don’t want a strike, “but I say this. If it’s necessary to do so, we will,’’ Lewis told reporters outside Chicago Board of Education headquarters.

She spoke as about 50 CTU members picketed behind her and later chanted “They say cutback. We say fight back.’’

Chicago Public School officials have insisted that progress has been made at the bargaining table.

Chicago Teachers Union