Parent Frustration Grows as Schools Remain Closed in Chicago

As the Chicago teachers strike goes into its second week — and signals remain mixed about when the strike might end — parents affected by school shutdowns are growing increasingly frustrated. Many families stuck with figuring out alternate childcare arrangements are now expressing this frustration out loud, even as they attempt not to place responsibility for their hardship on one side or the other.

Dan Rosen, a father from Wicker Park, says he doesn't see why closing the schools was required as part of the contract negotiations. If the option of keeping the schools open while the talks were ongoing was available, then it should have been more vigorously pursued, he said. It is hardly fair, he added, that the kids and their families were put in the middle of this conflict.

During the strike's first week, Rosen's wife, Debbie, took care of their two children and a few others in the neighborhood whose families didn't have back-up plans. Though they weren't forced to scramble like some parents, the couple had hoped to spend Sunday night making sure their son and daughter were caught up on school work and in bed early.

But signals from the union leaders have been decidedly less rosy over the weekend, as the membership vote on ending the strike was pushed back in favor of the negotiators taking more time to look over the district's proposal. This means that it's unlikely that the strike will be resolved before Wednesday. This proved to be a big disappointment to many families who were hoping that the schools would reopen on Monday this week.

"My thought was that the teachers were going to make a statement and be out of class for a week and at the end of that week hopefully things would be resolved," Rosen said. "The fact that they are not going back to the classroom to me is unconscionable."

The main issue for Gerald House, a parent of five, is that with the schools closed, there are no safe places for his children to spend their days. While some of them have been going to work with his wife, the rest must stay home with House. A few times the whole families took their children to the church to break the routine, but for the most part, their South Side neighborhood isn't a good place for children to be on their own.

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