Parents supportive but worn by strike

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
StaffWriter

Parents spoke out last week about the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) strike. They are in support of teacher’s rights but want children off the street and back in school.

Falandra Amick, who has two children at Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St., said she supported the teachers strike but not its timing. She said it would have been more effective and shorter if teachers would “have done it on the first day of school because that affects the amount of money the schools receive.”

Amick said last week she was able to stay home with her 1st grader and her 8th grader and was able to continue as a volunteer at the
program where she did her summer internship, but if the strike goes on for more than two weeks she will be at a level of discomfort.

She’s been hearing reports about charter schools making room to enroll more Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students but said she would never send her children to a charter school.

“Charter school policies are funny — teachers are not treated fairly and principals make back-door policies,” said Amick, who said
private school would be her alternative. “If a child gets in too many altercations or doesn’t make good grades they kick them out of
school.”

She said since local school councils decide who their principals should be, they should also be the ones to determine who the teachers at the school should be.

“We know the best fit for our kids — not the principals and not CPS” said Amick, who said she also thinks teacher evaluations based on test performance would lead to higher test scores at Reavis.

Rose Bahl, who recently transferred her son from Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., to Murray Elementary School, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., said she’s been using activity books with her 6th grade son during the day, then in the afternoon they head to the park.

“I’m an at-home mom, which is one of the fortunate parts,” Bahl said. “But I really feel for those parents who don’t have the option to stay at home with their children during this strike.”

Bahl said she helps her friends who have to work by taking care of their children. She said if the strike persists she may enroll her son in Catholic school. She said she supports the teachers’ right to strike but the negotiations have gotten “nitpicky” and she believes the CTU President Karen Lewis has something personal against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Every day there are more and more demands,” said Bahl, who said the teachers are unrealistic in their demands.

She said she agrees that class sizes should be small and there should never be 44 students in a classroom but she thinks teachers shouldn’t be demanding pay
raises.

“Where do they think the state of Illinois is going to find money for raises,” said Bahl, who lost her job due to downsizing. “In this tough economy everyone is downsizing and doing more with less pay.”

De’Shunn Bray, whose daughter attends Wells Prep, 244 E. Pershing Road, said she fully supports the teachers’ strike.

“I believe in the long run children will benefit from teachers that are happier,” Bray said. “I think Lewis has done a good job because she has community input and has been working with the community all year.”

Bray said that she is one of the lucky parents whose daughter’s after-school program extended its hours to accommodate CPS students during the strike but any time away from school hurts the children. She said she is concerned that the children will miss out on
academic and social learning, and she is also concerned for their safety.

“Around 1 p.m. I saw a group of kids playing around a tree then a grown up started talking to the kids,” Bray said. “He and one of the kids started walking down the street. I went up to the man and began to stare at him and the kid ran back to the tree with the rest of the kids.”

She said she is glad that CPS extended the hours of its strike programs for students from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“They wanted to set up places for children to eat but what about their safety,” said Bray, who added that it’s also the responsibility of the parents to make sure kids have a safe place to go during the strike. “It’s the fault of the parents if even one person gets hurt,” she said. In addition to the teachers having a fair contract, Bray said she also supports the idea of having an elected school board.

“Board members are the only body of school officials that are not elected and being appointed is a dictatorship,” Bray said. “Board members should be people from education backgrounds who went to or worked in the school district. They should understand high schools and [early childhood education] and not be someone from another state.”

d.phillips@hpherald.com