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Arne Duncan: CPS deserves ‘a badge of shame’ for short school day

U.S. Secretary EducatiArne Duncan answers questiafter his speech Thursday evening RadissMerrillville. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answers a question after his speech Thursday evening at the Radisson in Merrillville. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 22, 2011 11:12AM

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Chicago Public Schools deserve the “badge of shame’’ for having such a short school day, and he wished he could have lengthened it while he was Schools CEO here.

“Chicago has had the shortest day and year among [large] urban districts for far too long,’’ Duncan told the Chicago Sun-Times in advance of a Friday visit to Schurz High School.

“That’s not a badge of honor. That’s a badge of shame.’’

Extending the school day and year is “absolutely ... something I wish we could have done’’ under his leadership, Duncan said. But, he said, during that time — from 2001 to early 2009 — “the system couldn’t afford it.’’

Chicago Teachers Union officials question how CPS — which battled even bigger deficits this year than during the Duncan era — can afford to spend what could be at least $15 million on a longer-school-day pilot this school year if it didn’t have the money to cover any portion of previously-negotiated 4 percent teacher raises.

New Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have encouraged teachers to waive the existing union contract and work a 90-minute-longer day in exchange for a two percent pay hike until a new law next year gives them the power to unilaterally impose a longer day and year.

Duncan ends a Midwest bus tour Friday by discussing that new law at Schurz with Emanuel, Brizard and others.

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