Chicago teachers strike leaves kids displaced for 2nd day

September 11, 2012 12:32:19 PM PDT
South Loop Elementary School and dozens of others opened again Tuesday to serve as alternative sites for children who need a place to go during the Chicago teachers strike.

On Monday, 18,000 students out of the 350,000 not in school used the alternative classroom sites. Chicago Public Schools calls them Children First facilities.

Students can go to 144 different schools, churches and libraries. They are open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The sites are providing a helping hand to parents in need.

"I'm happy there is a system in place to support families where parents can have someone they can trust, where they can leave their kids for the day where they're working. It doesn't have so much disruption in their normal routine," said South Loop Elementary Principal Tara Shelton. "We have recess, sports, movie theaters, and we also have computers."

All of the facilities are staffed with non-union administrators, not teachers.

The Chicago Children's Museum is offering free admission to all CPS students this week and hopes the deal helps parents who are looking for safe and educational environments for children during the strike.

The CTA also offers free rides to students during the strike as well. The offer is good weekdays from 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. The rides are for students traveling to and from Children First locations and other sites like the museums, parks and libraries.

"It is really tough. Teachers have their issues, CPS has its issues, but parents have their issues as well," said Derek Vanderpool, parent.

"It is really fun. The fact that they have activities and stuff, but that I do not have homework and stuff -- it is sort of fun," said student Piper Vanderpool.

As parents escorted their children into the school several dozen striking teachers picketed outside, then moved to a more visible location on State Street in the South Loop.

Jane Hearrin, a hearing and vision screening technician for 31 years in the district, picketed with her tattered sign from the last teachers strike 25 years ago.

"It was a long time then, but I'm glad I went through it, and it built a lot of unity. It was a struggle financially, but it was worth it," she said.

Hearrin said she has major problems with CPS' position on evaluations, which are partially based on standardized test scores.

"It makes no sense in my mind, to base it on test scores. It just does not make sense to me because there are so many outside influences," said Hearrin.

Shelton said she holds a strong opinion on the other issue of contention; whether laid off teachers should be considered first for other jobs in the district.

"To build our culture is being able to have an interview with people who match our same qualities and have an opportunity to vote for people in who can drive our decision making. It is very important to me to be able to have that autonomy, to be able to choose people who are a good fit for me," she said.


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