UPDATED 05/13/11 6:08 a.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — Mayor Richard M. Daley says he is pleased with passage of sweeping education legislation sent to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk for signature.READ MORE: 1 Dead, 1 Injured After Crash Involving Semi-Trailer On Eisenhower Expressway Near Damen
As WBBM Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Mayor Daley backed the bill that had earlier passed the Illinois Senate and won final approval in the House.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
The bill allows local school districts to unilaterally decide to lengthen the school day. In Chicago, it also requires the Teachers Union to have 75 percent of its members agree in order to strike.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2009, says Illinois has done something truly remarkable in passing the bill. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel says passage of the bill represents a historic victory for Children in Chicago and across the state.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: One More Day In The 90s; Storms On The Way
“It gave the City of Chicago to lengthen our school day, and lengthen our school year, on par with other major cities,” Emanuel said. “These are tools. We have to use the tools. We have to make sure that we’re having the right discussion. Should we have more math, more reading, more history, more arts?”
Mayor Daley hadn’t read the final language of the bill, but he tells Newsradio 780 he agrees with the concept.
He said the current school day is just too short.
“The learning environment can’t be 5 1/2 hours a day. It’s impossible to have a learning environment – that means culture, that means sports, everything. It’s not just sitting in a classroom. It’s the whole learning environment. America has to change, and not just our schools, but everyone has to change,” Daley said.
But the bill isn’t without its critics. The Chicago Public Schools has estimated that an extra hour in the classroom would cost $300 million a year, and the Chicago Teachers Union says CPS must negotiate some form of compensation for longer school days.
The Teachers Union is not happy with the final bill, and plans to lobby for an additional bill to work out the kinks.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Building Heat
Mayor Daley is interviewed on WBBM 780’s “At Issue” program this weekend, and you can hear more of his thoughts on leaving office, Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.