Sunday, August 28, 2011

Extending School Day is The Answer to All Our Problems

Last Stand for Children First has been involved in the education reform movement in Chicago since last winter when we were asked by Mayor elect Rahm Emanuel and business leaders in the Civic Federation to help with their grassroots efforts to fundamentally change education in the city.  This effort came to fruition with the passage of SB7 and now with Mayor Emanuel's attempts to impose a longer school day.

The teachers are being most uncooperative really.  After having their 4% raise voted down because the schools didn't have enough money, we promised to find a way to give them half their raise if they would only work another 327 1/2 hours.  That's a tidy little $3.08 per hour for a beginning teacher.   When Jimmy Carter signed the law in 1977 to raise the federal minimum wage to $2.90 an hour in 1979 and $3.10 an hour in 1980, I don't think he realized he was insulting teachers with this paltry raise.  Throughout the early 1980s beginning fast food workers and dishwashers lived on $3.10 an hour and were happy to get it.  However, teachers with their fancy degrees somehow think a 2% pay increase for 29% more work is beneath them.

In 1982, my father was working at Burger King making barely over $3.10 an hour, but he didn't complain.  He worked hard and after he graduated from Dartmouth, he became a very successful Hedge Fund Manager.   Surely, teachers can step up their effort just a little as well.

Many babysitters get only $5 or $10 an hour to watch one child.  It doesn't seem unfair to me to ask a teacher to supervise a room full of students.  After all, when you get to 35 or 40 students, they mostly just supervise themselves or at least the bigger students are able to impose their will on the smaller ones.

Even more insulting is that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis refused to sit on the board to discuss how the extra 90 minutes would be imposed.  Is it too much to ask that she provide a little political cover by making it appear that the teachers were consulted?   After all, in exchange she would be on the panel giving the teachers in the city just much say in how the extra time would be spent as Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Church or Robin Steans of Advance Illinois.

The value of a longer school day should be obvious.  Chicago grammar schools have 946 hours instruction in a year.  Houston grammar schools have 1305 hours of instruction per year and New York has 930.  Once our students are given that extra time, they will have 4 years more instruction than students in other big cities like New York and Los Angeles by the time they graduate.  Only then will Chicago students be able to rise to the level of education juggernauts like the Houston Public Schools.


  1. I really don't no that extending school hour would be create problems for teachers and students but that is good for education development. You are right this is the answers of all problems.

  2. As a former taxpayer and parent, I really don't think you've fully considered the advantages of the going piecework rates in states like Texas.