Classroom Controversy: Longer Day For Students, But Not Teachers

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By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for a longer school day. The city’s teachers are insisting that their work days not be extended.

The agreement reached this week is something you might not see every day: both sides in the dispute are getting what they want.

Under the new proposal, elementary school children will have a 7-hour day this upcoming school year, while high school students will see their day increase to 7 ½ hours. Those figures represent a 20% increase in the school day for students.

But there will be little to no impact on the amount of time teachers spend in the classroom each school day. Instead, Chicago Public Schools will hire additional teachers to fill in the gaps.

With those hires, elementary school teachers will maintain a maximum of 296 minutes of instructional time per day. High school teachers will work about 15 minutes longer per school day than they did last year.

The school board president says the increased hiring could cost the district between $40 and $50 million per year, but neither the board nor the mayor’s office has yet to determine where the additional funds will come from. All of this is part of ongoing negotiations between city leaders and teachers unions to avoid a teachers strike.

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