Intelligence Report: Families struggle in silence as teachers strike persists

September 11, 2012 (CHICAGO)

There is no parents union or PR agency for families. Yet upwards of 800,000 parents of Chicago school children may be the silent majority in the Chicago Teachers Union strike, struggling to get through the day, trying to explain issues they can't even explain.

"Everyone has their own point of view, but it's the kids who are hurting," said Omar Alday, father of two CPS students. "They should be in school learning."

They don't have red shirts, signs or police protection...

"There is only so much the board can do, and the teachers deserve it, but they need to bend a little bit," said Carla Williams, mother of one CPS student.

Nobody blocked off the streets Tuesday night so the parents could make a point.

"I think the leader for the union needs to be more open," said Gladis Trutillo, mother of two CPS students. "I think Emanuel is not asking too much."

The parents of more than 400,000 Chicago public school children are the largest force without a voice or a leader.

As the strike drags toward day three, clearly, some parents are aligned with the teachers union; and some with Mayor Emanuel. But the silent majority sides only with their children.

"It's not fair for the children," said Cinthia Mennella, mother of one CPS student. "I know we also support the teachers but for the children, it is not fair to me."

A sampling of Twitter posts Monday:

  • Snarky Mommy writes: "As predicted 6 months ago now have one in preschool and 2 at home with me. Actually considered Xanax today."
  • Dee Dixon writes: "As a CPS parent I complete disagree with this. Lies and spin isn't news."
  • Miss Campbell: "CPS teachers strike needs to hurry and end. Kids suffering daily because of this. Let's make some kinda agreement. Quick."

One parent the I-Team talked to suggested maybe the teachers union should have waited until Thanksgiving or December to strike, when the students are already on break.

Another said that these aren't education issues; they are labor issues that the children are paying for.

All the parents interviewed expressed aggravation and frustration.

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