Rahm’s Trojan Horse

I’ll be talking tonight on CBS-2 news about the CPS proposal to lengthen the school day by 90 minutes. My quote in this morning’s Sun-Times was

“Any citizen of Chicago needs to ask how it’s going to be paid for. I don’t see how they can do it without raising class sizes to 45 kids. This is not a real plan. This is a politically motivated plan. It’s a plan to back the teachers union in a corner” and “make the teachers look like the bad guys for bursting the bubble.”

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Catalyst magazine, the CPS Office of Management and Budget estimated in 2009 that adding an hour to the school day would cost $280 million. Make that 90 minutes and you get $420 million. Figure that costs have gone up since 2009, add on the extra two weeks, and it’s pretty clear that the extra time will cost well over $1 million per school for CPS’s 482 elementary schools. We’re not counting in charter schools because they’re already doing everything right, right?

Now, we have a system that is already looking at a $700 million budget shortfall. CPS has already cut back on many of the programs they are now promising to add back in with the longer school day, such as art, music, sports, and professional planning time.

As if only time, not money, was holding them back.

Well, time and those money-grubbing teachers.

It’s absolutely absurd to propose a plan that would ask teachers to work an extra 90 minutes every day while offering them only half of the raise they were supposed to get for their current work day. And it’s cynical beyond belief to publicly trumpet a plan for a longer school day and year with more services and programs without mentioning how such a plan is to be funded. But then, that’s school reform Rahm-style.

For those who fell for this one, I have a gift horse whose mouth I just know you’re going to want to stick your head into.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.