CFL News
November 07, 2011

Editorial: Detente over longer day a credit to teachers union

The Chicago Teachers Union gets credit for agreeing to a deal regarding a longer school day for school children

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

By Editorial

Finally, a moment of peace in the brutal war between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools over a longer school day.

Let’s just hope the real winners here are Chicago’s schoolchildren.

For the last several months, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS have been locked in an ugly fight with the union over whether individual schools could extend their day this year, as Emanuel wanted, rather than waiting until next fall when all schools are expected to lengthen the day.

This fight between Emanuel and CTU — replete with name-calling, cussing and bullying — distracted from the important work of planning for a successful launch next year of a longer school day and other crucial issues, such as upcoming school closures, that demand collaboration between CTU and CPS.

It also set a pretty bad example of how adults ought to behave.

On Thursday, a detente: Bowing to legal realities (the odds weren’t good for a victory in court), CPS agreed to end its bid to extend the day at 25 more schools in January. Already, 13 schools have voted for a longer day this year and they will maintain that schedule.

In return, the teachers union agreed not to pursue additional legal action against CPS.

This was a legal victory for the union, which had argued that CPS was illegally bypassing the union by negotiating for a longer day with individual schools.

While we think the teachers union has been unnecessarily obstructionist on the topic of a longer day — which Chicago desperately needs — it had a point about respecting union rules.

In court, the union probably could have stopped CPS from adding more schools but opted for the more civilized course of negotiating. For that, they deserve much credit.

“We are hoping we have taken some of the poison pill out of water so we can work together,” CTU President Karen Lewis said Friday.

Likewise, CPS and Emanuel deserve credit for recognizing it was time to back down.

Now, finally, some real work on school improvement might actually begin.

Copyright © 2011 — Sun-Times Media, LLC