CPS and CTU need a time out

October 12, 2011 at 11:48 am 49 comments

I’m getting weary of discussing the longer day and union issues, but had to post this Trib article because I love the last line from Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand.  I also love that Noreen included that in her article.  Seriously!  It’s hard to take either side seriously when they say “it’s about the kids” when they can’t decide on a damn meeting place.  Read on…

The wrangling over a meeting place for Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union officials continued Tuesday until it was too late for the meeting.

Although both sides had agreed to gather Tuesday to discuss the plan to lengthen the school day, they hadn’t set a meeting place. CPS rejected a proposal to meet at union headquarters and suggested holding the talks at a school that already had voted to extend its days by 90 minutes this school year.

After not receiving a response, CPS got more specific Tuesday morning, suggesting Brown Elementary. But half an hour before the meeting time, union officials said no to Brown. The district then agreed to go to union offices, but the union said it was too late.

“When I didn’t hear back from them, I made other plans,” said CTU President Karen Lewis, adding that the debate should not have been played out in public. “If (schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard) wants my help on this, why are we having a conversation about this through the press?”

CPS plans to extend the school day by 90 minutes districtwide next school year, when state law allows it to do so without union approval. Until then, CPS is offering financial incentives and teacher bonuses to school staffs that vote to go ahead with the plan this year.

The union filed an unfair labor complaint charging that votes at the 13 pilot schools were conducted illegally.

Brizard asked Lewis to serve on an advisory committee on how to implement the extended day next year, but she has refused. On Oct. 1, he called on union officials to work with CPS to identify 25 schools that could join the pilot program in January.

CTU has argued that, rather than just a longer school day, the district should offer a “better” day filled with enrichment classes in arts and foreign languages — a proposal that will not require teachers to work extra hours.

“We’ll be as accommodating as possible,” said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll, who added that the district is trying to be “transparent” and “responding to a demand for information” regarding longer school days.

“I think they need a round table located on neutral territory,” said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education.

Parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand’s members were more blunt.

“We have big problems to tackle that require immediate collaboration and leadership,” said Raise Your Hand co-founder Wendy Katten. “Perhaps they should use a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.”


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Events and Info week of 10/10/11 (and beyond….) NPN School Fair 2011

49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mom2  |  October 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    If you hadn’t posted this, I was going to. I just shook my head this morning when I read this. I am totally fed up. If CTU doesn’t find a way to meet with CPS, they will get exactly what they said they don’t want – a longer day without being involved in the planning of that day. They are the ones that have to bend.

    I do believe many teachers have great ideas on how to best utilize a longer day, but with CTU leadership only focusing on longer day options that make sure teachers don’t work longer hours (their “better day terminology) is ridiculous and shows that they really don’t want a better day, just a day where they don’t have to work longer hours.

  • 2. cpsmama  |  October 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Love the Rock, Paper Scissors comment.

    CTU seems to be taking lessons from our “esteemed” members of Congress. Maybe they’ll need to designate a “neutral” meeting place in the next CTU contract. Gimme a break.

  • 3. Mayfair Dad  |  October 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Another day another blunder by K. Lewis & Co.

  • 4. HSObsessed  |  October 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Unbelievably petty.

  • 5. Ravenswood Mom  |  October 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm


    I agree with Wendy @ RYH – Rock Paper Scissors (a child’s game!) would be a good way to resolve such a childish conflict.

  • 6. anonymous  |  October 12, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    This is exactly why I will never wear the CTU t-shirt my union rep keeps trying to give me and why I have no respect for CPS and the board of education. All of them are idiots. The whole lot. Brizard, Lewis, everyone. It is amazing that schools are able to function at all given the ineptitude on the parts of the leadership at the board and in the union. I honestly wish every teacher in the city would strike, not over hours, not over pay, but merely because we work for morons. Sheesh.

  • 7. watcher  |  October 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I guess it comes down to p.o.v. I view CPS as being the jerks in these situations: the meeting site, as well as Brizard’s asking Lewis “to serve on an advisory committee on how to implement the extended day next year” and his calling “on union officials to work with CPS to identify 25 schools that could join the pilot program in January.” I’m OK if others don’t take my viewpoint.

  • 8. watcher2  |  October 13, 2011 at 1:55 am


    If we take a step back from the silly bickering, we’ll see that unless Emanuel provides ongoing funding, “meetings on the topic” are pretty much pointless.

    After all, Emanuel knows that Lewis wants a longer day like U. of C. Lab’s. But without the money, what does it matter?

    The Trib reporter likes to write silly “he said, she said” details. But no one else covers this triviality. It’s not the news in the story.

    The news is that — just like with the “breakfast in the classroom” program — many parents don’t want a one-size-fits-all mandatory longer day. They want some say so in how it is administered.

    And also that there are many issues Emanuel has not addressed.

    — No sustained funding for the longer day.
    — No time to plan.
    — Hundreds of schools w.o. air conditioning.
    — Hundreds of schools overcrowded.
    — Hundreds of schools w.o. facilities like cafeterias or libraries to handle indoor recess in bad weather.
    — More than one hundred schools with good ISAT scores.

    Bickering in the Trib is a sideshow that obscures what is important —

    The secret meetings in Springfield led by Reps. Cross and Senger to give Emanuel control of all the pension boards of all city workers.

  • 9. CPSDepressed  |  October 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Teachers don’t work for the board, they work for the taxpayers. They are public employees. Karen Lewis is doing a bang-up job of telling parents and taxpayers just how little she thinks of them.

    I’m not sure how Lewis’s turning down a proposed meeting site, refusing to serve on an advisory committee, and refusing to work with CPS to identify schools for a pilot program makes CPS officials the jerks here. My impression is that CPS is trying to work with CTU, but CTU refuses. But, hey, I’m just a voter, a taxpayer, and a parent, so what do I know?

  • […] CPS and CTU need a time out CPS Obsessed:  “We have big problems to tackle that require immediate collaboration and leadership,” said Raise Your Hand co-founder Wendy Katten. “Perhaps they should use a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.” […]

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  October 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I guess I could argue that if someone wanted me to work 1.5 hours a day longer they should be willing to bend a bit to set up the meeting.

    It’s just when both sides appear so petty that I want to smack them up. It’s hard to put blame on the union if cps won’t even agree to a meeting place.

    Fyi, wendy from RYH has given direct credit for the “rock paper scissors” line to another parent. Oh how I would love to see that being the deciding factor. I’d pay to watch.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 12. Mayfair Dad  |  October 13, 2011 at 9:14 am

    For everyone who is worried about how CPS will be paying for a longer school day, let me put your minds at ease: our taxes will be going up soon. But first Rahm needs to create the perception of making the tough decisions to clean up Daley’s mess and playing hardball with the public employee unions. Once he establishes his credibility as a reformer and we still find ourselves in a financial hole, taxes will go up.

    Did you notice the proposed city budget includes a pay raise for the aldermen? He has to pay those jackwagons off to get his budget passed. Same old Chicago.

  • 13. cps Mom  |  October 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Same old Chicago with some new twists. The proposed reforms are not only invigorating for the city but challenge our whole infrastructure. Go Rahm go!

    CPS doesn’t have to bend on this issue of setting the stage because they are holding all the cards. I guess they don’t really have to be polite about it.

  • 14. HSObsessed  |  October 13, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I’d like to clarify again that teachers weren’t being asked to work 1.5 hours longer, but only .75 hours longer. Most schools’ teachers had voted long ago to move “their” lunch hour to the last hour of the day, so that they could go home earlier. So, in all those years, even if they left the building at 1:45 pm, they were technically “on the clock” and being paid for working until 2:30, which is when their students’ day would have ended, had it not been for them voting to arrange things otherwise. So yes, teachers were being asked to work 45 minutes longer.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  October 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Good point HSO!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 16. mom2  |  October 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Thank you, HSObsessed. That point, along with the feeling from many parents that because of arrangements like they have had with closed campus “all these years” and the longer hours worked by their counterparts in many cities and suburbs around the country (for the same or sometimes less pay), is what contributes to the frustration when CTU brings up needing more pay to work all these extra hours. As I have said time and time again, if CTU would focus on making the school day “longer” and “better”, with emphasis on having the staff, facilities and supplies necessary to make the longer and better day work, they could get a lot of support from parents. They fail every step of the way when they constantly bring up needing to be paid for their extra time (we all wish we could be paid more when we have to work more hours to keep our jobs).

  • 17. Anonymous  |  October 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

    @12 Emanuel’s budget says he will declare a partial TIF surplus and some of that will go to CPS. Might prevent another property tax hike? Maybe?

  • 18. CityMom  |  October 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

    ….just another reason that I am so happy we moved to a private school. I’m still hopeful they work it out and develop a better relationship because it negatively affects so many teachers and families…and because we would like to be a CPS family for high school. But at this moment, I am thrilled to be out of the fray for a while. It’s tiring and depressing!

  • 19. Anonymous  |  October 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Rahm wants to control the pension boards of all city workers, including teachers, fire, police, effective immediately.

    This from second city cop blog.

    Stealing the Pension
    They’ll pass it off as “reform,” then steal it:

    Less than 24 hours after the Tribune and WGN-TV reported that at least eight union officials eligible for a city pension also stand to receive one or more union pensions for the same period of work, Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross filed legislation that would limit them to just the one. …

    ” Under Illinois pension law, a union leader may receive a city pension based on his union salary as long as he doesn’t “receive credit in any pension plan established by the local labor organization based on his employment by the organization.”

    But the Tribune and WGN-TV found that the executive directors of two city pension funds allowed union leaders to accrue additional union pension benefits if the funds were created by labor groups that are not located in Chicago or that include multiple unions.”

    All well and good to close a loophole that’s draining pension funds statewide. But what’s the reason for adding this language to the bill?

    “Amends the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighter, Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Teacher Articles of the Illinois Pension Code to terminate the existing pension boards 90 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act and to provide for a new board comprised of 4 members appointed by the Mayor of the City of Chicago and 3 elected members representing active members and annuitant members of the fund. […]”

    Effective immediately.

    Are we missing something or is this completely under the radar?

  • 20. Angie  |  October 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    @19. Anonymous : seems to me that they are going to fire the people who allowed union bigwigs to draw additional pensions. So what?

  • 21. Anonymous  |  October 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Angie — it’s great for Rep Cross to close the loophole to prevent double-dipping of pensions. It stops draining the funds. We should all agree to that, I think.

    But — way at the bottom — is the language that gives the Mayor complete control over all city workers pension funds.

    I know the topic of pensions is as dry as dust. But if you google Cellini trial, you’ll see how much corruption there is over pension funds.

    Fire, police and teachers have paid into the funds all their working lives. The funds are solvent. Our politicians have already implemented “pension holidays” where they don’t make the contribution that state law requires.

    No one wants to give total control of all that money to the mayor.

  • 22. Mayfair Dad  |  October 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    @ 17: Can I have a hit of that hopium you are smoking?

    @ 19: The public employee pension mess is a vast morass of corruption, scandal, double-dipping, fraud and sinful waste of taxpayer money. We need an independent Federal investigation of what is going on. People need to be sent to prison. The scope of the problem is damn near unfathomable.

  • 23. Anonymous  |  October 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I just wanted to add something to the discussion. At one time I was involved in an issue with the Park District. Every time they knew our group was going to attend a meeting, they would mysteriously change the meeting site. And this was after the meetings were publicly posted. One time there was a sign on the door telling us the meeting had been moved to a location far away. I’m not joking.

    So, before everyone starts blaming the CTU for being a bit irked by the challenges of setting up a meeting, know that CPS officials may (I’m not saying they are for sure) simply be up to standard Chicago political tricks like the ones we experienced. It was the most frustrating and infuriating experience of my life!!

  • 24. anonymous  |  October 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    #16, Can we please stop the lie that CPS teachers work less hours for the same or more pay than their suburban or nationwide counterparts? Suburban teachers get double the lunch and the prep time CPS teachers get. If CPS teachers were guaranteed those same things (vital to good teaching), then I know very few teachers system wide that would fight it.
    Our day is more compacted, that is for sure. But we have more students (sometimes upwards of 35), more students with serious needs, less materials, less support, less prep time and less lunch/break time. Suburbs and City are like comparing apples to oranges. High School teachers are in the building a longer amount of time, but they get two guaranteed preps per day. Elementary teachers get 4 per week. HUGE difference.
    We have a staff member at our building who is likely to miss the entire rest of the year due to a health problem. Guess what? The board refuses to send a sub. We are screwed and my principal is fighting tooth and nail to get help.
    And while teachers may “work for” taxpayers, taxpayers put “the board” in charge, much the same way voters put our current political leaders in charge. That board and the leadership right now in CPS is who I report to, who has the power to hire and fire and who oversees my work. Taxpayers did not interview me, hire me, observe me nor do they evaluate me. So, yes, I work for the board. They are morons. Completely and totally incompetent.
    I swear to god I need to keep a diary, like the speech therapist who secretly wrote about school lunches, about the day to day realities of schools. I would be rich.

  • 25. CPSDepressed  |  October 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Anonymous, we know what the CTU wants: less work for more pay. We know what the taxpayers want: effective education. We’re not getting that now, and I fail to see how teachers working less for more pay yields a more effective education,

    Suburban teachers work more days per year. That’s one of the issues with the hours. So when you consider that CPS teachers have a short school day and a short school year, and that Chicago students are not making academic progress, you might be able to see why the average voter supported Emanuel even though CTU did not.

    If the voters agreed with Karen Lewis that teachers needed more money for the same or less work, they would have voted for Carol Moseley Braun,

  • 26. watcher  |  October 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    @9 CPSD – “Lewis’s turning down a proposed meeting site, refusing to serve on an advisory committee, and refusing to work with CPS to identify schools for a pilot program makes CPS officials the jerks here. My impression is that CPS is trying to work with CTU, but CTU refuses.” – Yes, I can imagine that most news consumers in town see it this way. That’s the way it’s been played in the media, and kudos go to the CPS/Emanuel PR machine and the leanings of the reporters.

    However, the way I see it is it (and god knows I don’t expect anyone to agree with me):

    – Lewis declined joining an extremely anti-union-teacher & ridiculously “stacked” committee and offered other ways for CPS to engage with CTU about the “longer/better day.”

    – She declined CPS’s Plan B to place “responsibility” on CTU to get 25 more schools to switch to the longer day this fall when the massive CPS/Emanuel effort did not bear enough fruit. CTU is already focusing on preparing for next year’s done-deal longer day.

    – And, usually, union-management meetings seem to be commonly held in the headquarters of each, not at a location that’s being used as a PR spectacle highlighting the management’s strategy.

    The CPS actions in these three examples seem full of snark to me. Well played, apparently, for the Chicago public.

    I’m probably not explaining my point of view too well. It’s an informed view. But what do I know?

  • 27. mom2  |  October 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    @26 –
    “…offered other ways for CPS to engage with CTU about the “longer/better day.” – What did she offer? Give details.

    “CTU is already focusing on preparing for next year’s done-deal longer day.” – What are they preparing? A planned strike if they don’t get paid more or what are they proposing and planning? Give details.

    And I really don’t understand what difference it makes where a meeting is held. Why assume everyone is an enemy and against you and therefore you must be on your home turf? The idea of meetings is to share ideas – this time being how to have longer and better days in school that benefit the children of Chicago. I know teachers have great ideas here but they will never be heard the way things are going right now. It will be their own fault when the longer day is planned without them and I don’t want to hear them complain later about how they weren’t consulted, etc.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  October 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Maybe since I mentioned the school fair….
    Yeah, I’m wondering how they’ll empty spots at SL too, but really its probably easier to pull from the neighborhood.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 29. Mayfair Dad  |  October 14, 2011 at 10:08 am

    @ 26 Watcher

    I do not disagree with the accuracy of your post, yet I am not persuaded by the evidence you present to be more supportive of the CTU.

    Time and time again, CTU has demonstrated they are “for the teachers” and not “for the kids”. I am not apologizing for Rahm Emanuel’s hamfisted approach, but the fact remains Chicago has one of the shortest school days and school years of any major city in the US, which puts our children at a severe disadvantage,

    The latest ploy by CTU, promoting a better school day patterned after the U of C Lab School (where the mayor’s children attend) was only offered after CTU was being pilloried by public opinion. Inserting the mayor’s children into the discussion by referencing Lab School is petty and unprofessional…again.

    A majority of Chicagoans voted for Rahm Emanuel to clean up Daley’s mess, and this is exactly what he is doing.

  • 30. WK  |  October 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I think what puts our kids at a severe disadvantage is that we’ve had a narrow curriculum due to lack of funding and a focus on test prep from NCLB for years. I am not against a longer day at all but I am opposed to the lack of discussion regarding curricular priorities. Some of our schools are able to fundraise to broaden the curriculum and some don’t or can’t. Adding time without changing the curriculum won’t put us at much of an advantage, imo. Most of the research points to quality of minutes as the key, not quantity.

  • 31. cps Mom  |  October 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    @30 I do agree with your concerns. This does vary widely school to school. I thought the idea of the pilot program was to garner wisdom from schools that have workable ideas and use those as a template. They even have the full range on board – underachieving neighborhood school through high performing magnet.

    My only concern with a lot of talk and input from teachers, parents, CTU, CPS, aldermen, everyone and his brother – nothing actually gets done. We need someone to say “We are doing it and this is how it will happen” period. Otherwise too many varying viewpoints. Thank goodness we have that.

  • 32. watcher  |  October 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    This is interesting: http://vivateachers.org/2011/10/12/viva-chicago-teachers-project-launches/

  • 33. Study-Up  |  October 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    @30 “the lack of discussion regarding curricular priorities. Some of our schools are able to fundraise to broaden the curriculum and some don’t or can’t.”…..9/10 caring citizens who get involved in curricular priorities end up being vilified and run out of town. Have fun with that. Try being and LSC member who is aware…

  • 34. watcher  |  October 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    This is interesting about the CPS/CTU media coverage too. See today’s Friday Papers column at http://www.beachwoodreporter.com.

  • 35. Gayfair Dad  |  October 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    @34: Point?

  • 36. watcher  |  October 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I’d guess one would just read Steve’s column to decide if it’s interesting how media, CTU & CPS position information.

  • 37. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

    It is interesting how the Trib, Sun Times position the CTU and CPS.
    thanks for this link to the Beachwood Reporter.

    What would it take to get a Fed investigation of the pensions?

    Please keep that diary and fill us in from time to time with what you are seeing from the inside.

    Chicago is in for a major shift in urban education.

  • 38. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

    FYI — Op-Ed today in the Trib on a longer school day from Raise Your Hand.

  • 39. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    23– I had the same experience as you did, only with CPS, not CPD!

    They would change meeting times at the last minute, and you’d only know b/c there was a note taped to the locked door when you showed up.
    Then they’d keep the time of the meeting, but they would lock the door to the public meeting place.
    Then they wouldn’t answer the door bell.
    They would agree to the meeting and allow people into the public building, then the head of the committee wouldn’t show up for an hour. I guess she was hoping that the parents would leave. When they didn’t leave, she left the building.

  • 40. watcher  |  October 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Direct link to the CPS/CTU/Trib/ST column: http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/column/the_friday_papers_278.php

  • 41. Mayfair Dad  |  October 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    @ 40 watcher. Interesting read.

    Lets assume the IELRB dismisses the more titillating charges against CPS but sides with CTU that CPS, by going direct to teachers with promises of pay increases and lump sum payments to Pioneer schools, violated the terms of the CTU contract with the Board of Ed. What happens next? Does the matter get referred to a “real” court? Are the findings of the IELRB legally binding?

    I’d love to learn what the possible outcomes could be without the usual spin, since my children attend one of the Pioneer schools.

  • 42. watcher  |  October 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    A referral to a real court rather than admin law judge, I think.

  • 43. anonymous  |  October 17, 2011 at 7:21 am

    @41. 42 For Rod Estvan’s opinion on the issue, read district 299.

  • 44. anonymous  |  October 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Interesting clip on current CTU leaders.


  • 45. Mayfair Dad  |  October 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    From the Catalyst article:

    “Even if the IELRB decides to seek an injunction against CPS, it would then have to convince Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to file suit against the district for unfair labor practices. Then, a judge would have to order the district to change school schedules or stop taking votes.”

    I really can’t see a Rahm Emanuel – Lisa Madigan showdown happening…but it would make for great headlines!

  • 46. Mary  |  October 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Does anybody know whether CPS is planning to extend the school day for high schools? Ours already goes to 3:00 – I can’t imagine it going until 4:30.

  • 47. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Hi – see the recent thread on high school act scores. People are discussing it there….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 48. Smackdown At Sullivan HS | ChicagoNow  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:57 am

    […] CPS and CTU need a time out CPS Obsessed:  “We have big problems to tackle that require immediate collaboration and leadership,” said Raise Your Hand co-founder Wendy Katten. “Perhaps they should use a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.” […]

  • 49. http://topsites.watchanimeon.com  |  November 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this article to him.

    Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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