Where to send your kids while Chicago teachers strike

Spetember 10, 2012 (CHICAGO)

William H. Ray Elementary School in Hyde Park is one of the 144 sites that will be open to children for parents to drop them off at least for part of the day Monday. The folks at Ray School say they're ready to take in at least 680 students if not more and have plenty of activities to go around to help them out between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

What parents need to know is they need to pre-register their child on the district's website. They can also call 311. There will be breakfast and lunch provided at Ray School as well as the other contingency sites, too. But there is no transportation.

The principal at Ray says they have a ton of board games and activities for the kids to keep them active all day.

"We are going to be doing some art, some reading, some writing, and we also have videos and movies. That's an option if kids want to pursue and we have several selections of board games," said Principal Tatia Peckwith.

Chicago Teachers Union teachers, parents, even some of the students have been protesting outside of Ray Elementary School since 8:30 a.m. Monday. They say they plan on being there until 12:30 p.m.

While signs were directing parents inside, crossing the picket lines to get into the school has not been easy for some.

"You feel kinda bad because I support the teachers, but at the same time they called me in for work, so I'm gonna work," said parent Brianne Kelly.

"We want to take him in, if it's not OK, my wife will take him home," said parent Yngshi Ko.

Ray Elementary school is using non-union employees to help with their kids. The key staff are assistant principals from surrounding schools familiar with the students.

But John Cusick, a fifth grade teacher at Ray, says that is not good enough for his students, and that's why he is on strike.

"Ask us what works in the classroom, ask us what works in the schools. They don't listen to us anymore at all, that's why we're out here, Mister Brizard will come and go, just like Mr. Duncan, Mr. Vallas, Mr. Mazany, Mr. Huberman has come and go, I'm still in my classroom in a Chicago public school," Cusick said.

Ray school parent Lisa Samra held an outdoor day "solidarity" kids camp along with other parents while their teachers strike.

"We wanted to offer something here in Hyde Park that's grass roots, child centered, a place where the kids can be safe, fed, engaged, by loving parents and community members," Samra said.

At Benjamin E. Mays Elementary Academy there's a lot of confusion. Students usually arrive at 7:45 a.m. but the school didn't open Monday until 8:30, so some children were left waiting outside.

Parent April Logan decided to take her 5-year-old home instead of leaving her at school where she wasn't sure who would be watching her.

At Paul Robeson High School, a handful of students trickled in as about two dozen teachers picketed outside. Ebony Irvin, 17, says she only came to school because she didn't have anywhere else to go. She planned to do homework from last week.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard says there are other locations to turn to as well.

"We have locations throughout the city and 76 libraries providing opportunities for the students," he said.

There are other locations, including YMCA locations and churches.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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