A parent's take on the Chicago teacher strike

I was working Monday when my mom called to see if I needed help with my first-grader, in light of the continuing teachers strike.

I would love the help, but getting our daughter out to Grandma's and back entails a 90-minute drive. My husband and I also have a toddler and full-time jobs, so, like most parents, we have our hands full even when our oldest is in school. In the end, the final vote came from the first-grader: She'd just had a sleepover at Grandma's during the strike last week, and wasn't ready to go back yet. Maybe another relative could come to our rescue.

Without getting into the politics of CPS vs. the CTU, the hardest part of the strike for me has been child care. Our system feels like a house of cards even with school: relatives, a baby-sitter and an after-school program all take care of the kids. I start planning in February what to do with our oldest during the summer; now suddenly we need someone to watch her tomorrow. CPS's Children First and the park district programs are helpful, but they amount to people we don't know watching our kids. Paying a baby-sitter for nine hours a days, five days a week, isn't possible. Still, my husband and I are very fortunate; imagine the frustration of a single parent with no family nearby. 

The easiest part of this strike has been explaining it to our daughter. "The teachers and the city are talking about how much the teachers should get paid and how much they should work and things like that, and they haven't decided yet." Sometimes we can tell her the night before that there's no school tomorrow; sometimes she finds out when she wakes up in the morning. Either way, she accepts it with calm indifference. She's only in first grade; perhaps she just assumes this is how schools work.

And maybe that's the worst part of the strike.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)