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Chicago Public Schools Teachers Regularly Work Nearly 11-Hour Days, 58-Hour Weeks: Report

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CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACHERS LONGER SCHOOL DAY
In this Sept. 28, 2011 photo, Tresa Dunbar, principal of the Nash Elementary School, one of 13 schools where teachers voted to make the school day 90 minutes longer starting this year in exchange for extra pay, speaks to fourth-grader Daniyah Sanders in the school library in Chicago. The teachers union has cried foul and wants the schools to be forced to return to their old schedules. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) | AP

As the debate over how long the Chicago Public Schools school day should be wages on, a new analysis released this week lends credence to the argument that CPS teachers already put in exceptionally long hours beyond what's required of them.

The study, co-authored by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign labor professors Robert Bruno and Steven Ashby and research assistant Frank Manzo IV, found that, based on surveys of nearly 1,000 CPS teachers, "teaching in a Chicago public school is well beyond a full-time job."

According to the study [PDF], teachers work an average of 58 hours each week, including an average of 10 hours and 48 minutes during a standard school day, including two hours of time working at home during the evening. Additionally, teachers work, on average, an extra three hours and 45 minutes on classroom-related work over the weekend.

All told, that amounts to "more than 800 hours a year beyond what is contractually obligated," according to the study -- a workload the study's authors say contributes to burnout and a relatively high turnover rate.

Looking deeper into how Chicago public school teachers typically spend their time working in the classroom, the analysis found that less than half each day's work time was, on average, actually focused on instruction. In addition, teachers spent 9 percent of their time on behavioral management, 8 percent of their time sorting data and 7 percent of their time setting up or taking down their classroom. Chicago magazine has outlined some of the larger time allocation discrepancies between differing grade levels.

The study concludes with a series of recommendations including the urging that teachers play a primary role in helping to decide the length of a school day as well as its contents.

"Any lengthening of the school day that ignores what teachers are actually experiencing will likely do nothing more than further complicate the time burden that teachers face in educating children," the study notes.

After parent groups spoke out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's unrelenting call for a longer CPS school day, the mayor on Tuesday announced that he would scale back his plans, as elementary schools will go from a 5 3/4 hour-long day to a 7-hour day, a half-hour short of his original plan. High schools will keep the originally planned 7 1/2 hour day, but will be released 75 minutes early once a week.

On Thursday, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard told the Chicago Sun-Times that the tweaking of the longer school day plan was his suggestion.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who earlier this month said that teachers at 150 CPS schools are "fed up" to the point where they would support a strike, commented that the mayor "moved his toe a half an inch from the starting line" by rolling back his initial plan.

Still, "he needs to do more. He has to listen with both ears," Lewis continued. "Parents, teachers and community leaders across Chicago have been unanimous in saying we want a better school day for our students, not just a longer one."

The mayor previously re-emphasized in a statement that he would continue to push to protect the longer school day, even as the CTU and other groups, such as Raise Your Hand, have questioned how CPS will adequately fund the additional class time when CPS is reportedly facing a $700 million budget deficit.

"By adopting a longer day and a longer year, we are working to shape the future of our children for the better and give them an education that matches up with their potential," Emanuel said Tuesday in a statement.

WATCH the Chicago Teachers Union responds to the mayor's slightly shortened longer school day plan:

April 10 Press Conference responding to Mayor Emanuel's Longer School Day announcement from Chicago Teachers Union on Vimeo.

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