Chicago teachers hold placards as they walk the picket line outside the headquarters of Chicago Public Schools in Chicago September 10, 2012. Thousands of public school teachers formed picket lines in Chicago on Monday and parents scrambled for child care during their first strike in a quarter century over reforms sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and endorsed by President Barack Obama's administration. (Photo : Reuters)
After failing to reach an agreement with the city of Chicago, over 25,000 teachers decided to head to the picket lines and strike on Monday, leaving hundreds of thousands of students without school. Almost 44 percent of the student population affected by the teachers strike is Latino, Fox News Latino reported on Tuesday.
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A contingency plan put into effect by Chicago Public Schools allowed for 144 schools to remain open during the strike as well as several Safe Haven sites for parents to leave their children. However, limited hours for the schools and childcare centers proved of little help to parents.
Many families, living primarily in Chicago's Southwest side, were forced to decide whether to stay home or take advantage of the limited resources made available by CPS. According to Fox News Latino, 88 percent of Chicago public school students come from low-income families.
Patricia Rodríguez, whose two daughter were left without a school to go to during the strike, told Fox News Latino, "I'm lucky that I can take them to work with me because they can sit in the chairs, but I know that families had to leave kids home alone today or stay home and miss work to be with them and that's not fair. The teachers want more and more money and while they fight for that, it's us, the parents, that are spending money today that we don't have either. It's not a big thing today but what about tomorrow and next week if they don't go back?"
The strike, which has no foreseeable end in sight, has many parents wondering about the alternatives to public schools, including charter schools, which remained open during the strike.
Jan Rangel, the chief executive officer of the United Neighborhood Organization's (UNO) Veterans Memorial Campus, told Fox News Latino, "The strike is actually raising awareness about charter schools because parents across the city are seeing that 52,000 kids are going to school today and they're going to start asking why their kids aren't among them."
Although part of CPS, charter schoolteachers are not unionized, Fox News Latino reported, and did not participate in the strikes that began Monday. Rangel told reporters that he believes charter schools are a practical alternative to public schools that may be failing their neighborhoods.
On Monday, Rodríguez only had disdain for the teachers strike affecting her children, "To tell you the truth, I don't really know what the things are that the teachers are asking for right now. But what could be so important that they thought the best decision was to strike?"
Other parents also voiced their disapproval for the strike. Rachelle Cirrintano told the Chicago Tribune, "There was no reason to do this when they just got situated. All the teachers should be let go for their irresponsibility to the children and their families."