Three CPS Schools Vote to Extend School Days

By Soyoung Kwak in News on Sep 3, 2011 6:00PM

2010_03_14_CPS.jpg Breaking the trend with most schools, three elementary schools within the CPS system decided to "go rogue" and vote for longer school days yesterday. The three schools - Genevieve Melody Elementary, Skinner North Elementary and Stem Magnet Academy - departed from the majority sentiment of the Chicago Teachers Union on the controversial issue.

While some union members are saying that the three dissident elementary schools were coerced -- or even bribed -- into saying 'yes' to longer school days, CPS maintains that no forceful prodding was involved. CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll is adamant about this fact:

“Several schools indicated to us over the last several weeks that there is a strong appetite to move toward a longer day because ... they don’t feel they have enough time in the classroom with students and they don’t have enough time for planning and collaboration,” Carroll said.

Carroll said teachers at Skinner and STEM voted to begin the longer day on the first day of school, while teachers at Melody plan to begin in January. The votes also called for teachers to adopt waivers, allowing them to veer from their current contracts.

So, it looks as if these votes were in the bag all along. Although the three elementary schools have made it clear that they support the new proposal, members of the teachers union are wary of how the changes will be implemented: “They have engaged in no substantive discussion about how planning, about how preparation time, about how school meetings and the other things that need to make about how school will really work well, how any of those things will be handled,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said.

Sharkey's statement raises another question: Is CPS really okay with allowing three schools to operate on different academic schedules than the rest of the schools in the city? We'll find out.