CPS and CTU need a time out
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…
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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