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Teachers At Some Schools Break Ranks, Agree To Longer Day

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Emanuel has won a major victory in his push for a longer school day.

Teachers in Chicago city schools on Friday broke ranks with their union leaders, agreeing to voluntarily add 90 minutes to each day's classes.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports how it happened.

It was a surprising development, though it was tipped by Chicago Public Schools CEO J.C. Brizard earlier this week. After the Chicago Teachers Union flatly rejected his offer of 2 percent raises for elementary school teachers in return for an extra 90 minutes a day, he tried something else with individual schools' faculty who had the right to vote to extend the school day at individual schools.

Voting yes were 66 percent of teachers at Skinner North Elementary on the north edge of the old Cabrini Green complex; 76 percent of teachers at STEM Magnet School on the Near West Side; and 75 percent at Genevieve Melody Elementary in Austin.

The determining factor appeared to be $150,000 extra per school. Skinner principal Ethan Netterstrom said he told teachers they could allocate that money however they wanted.

Teachers already been pressured by the CTU, whose website urged them to vote no to a waiver agreeing to change the school day. Mindful of the pressure from the union, the teachers inside Skinner Elementary, preparing for next week's opening day, were reluctant to talk about their decision on Friday.

But parents coming to register their children were clearly pleased.

"I think the teachers here are incredibly smart, they know what's good for the school and the students," Skinner parent Suja Geevarghese said.

Mayor Emanuel and Brizard issued a joint statement, calling the teachers' votes "courageous."

But the CTU contends the board coerced principals to force this waiver vote on their staff, with gifts being offered as bribes to teachers in return for a longer school day.

The union calls it "plantation politics" and has filed a grievance. CPS says the 2 percent bonuses are exactly what was offered last week and that other teachers have also expressed interest in getting on board.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Michele Fiore reports

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