Fired up on a Sunday

I should really unsubscribe from the Schools of Thought blog. All it does is rile me up. I tell myself I’m going to post on something from somewhere else and yet I still get drawn to the headlines in my RSS feed, click, and it’s downhill from there.

This story about Chicago Public School’s recent decision to extend the school day for students but not for teachers makes teachers sound lazy because they don’t want to stay at work for another few hours every day. Both parties “got their way” — the teachers don’t have to stay for an extra few hours, and the school day got extended. What bothers me isn’t the decision — it makes sense to me. None of the teachers I’ve ever known have days that start at 8 and end at 3 — teachers work at home, plan at home, and occasionally wind up in the classroom on a weekend. I certainly did. And that “vacation” in the summer isn’t a paid vacation, nor is it usually much of a vacation. Adding one more class period to my day? No way. That’s another 30 papers to read, AND it takes away an hour’s worth of time to get that assessment done! No, what bothers me about this post is the rhetoric. The headline, “In Chicago, Longer School Day for Students, but Not for Teachers” somehow makes the decision sound “unfair” to students, or “too lenient” for teachers.

Later in the post:

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.

This decision would cost the district that amount ANYWAY, because teachers aren’t going to do extra work for free. It’s literally illegal to ask them to do that. This makes it sound as though the teachers, by asking the school board to honor their contracts and compensate them for extra work or not give them the extra work to begin with, are making the district spend an extra $40-$50 million that they don’t have. Keeping kids in school for an extra few hours necessitates spending extra money, no matter how you slice it.

It shouldn’t bother me this much. Or should it? Maybe it should bother more people…