Aldermen back mayor, but parents with teachers
By KIM JANSSEN AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reportersfirstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com September 10, 2012 7:30PM
Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School had a large number of striking teachers , and supporting students and parents outside the school on the first day of the strike. Kim Lutz supports the strikes. She has children at Bell. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
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Updated: October 12, 2012 6:12AM
Aldermen almost unanimously fell in line behind the mayor, with Ald. “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st) saying the Chicago Teachers Union was “hell-bent on striking,” and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) warning a protracted strike could send middle-class families fleeing to the suburbs.
But as the strike began, the majority of parents and students at school gates across the city seemed to be taking the teachers’ side. The huge number of motorists honking their horns as they passed picket lines suggested teachers have substantial public support — for now, at least.
“I don’t know if bullying is the word I would use, but my feeling is the mayor is not really listening,” said Jorge Bernal, the father of two students at Peirce School of International Studies in Edgewater Beach.
Fellow Peirce parent Wendi Brown waved a pro-union sign and said she would never undermine the teachers by leaving her son at school while his teacher picketed.
“I’m a Jewish girl who voted for Rahm to be mayor of this city and I am disappointed — I’m almost embarrassed to say I voted for him,” Brown said. “I agree with him on many issues but we got him there and he needs to stand with us today.”
At Bell Elementary in the North Center neighborhood, parent Stacy Snyder organized a meeting for parents at her house with union representatives, in part to counter what some Bell parents described as incessant robocalls from CPS advocating the district’s position.
“I think people were kind of uneducated,” said Snyder.
And at the nearby Lane Tech High School, history teacher Missy Smith declared herself “surprised by all the honking.”
“It’s very humbling and very appreciated...I just hope people realize it isn’t just about us and pay,” she said.
Lane Tech History teacher Noah Ochsenhaut added, “I think hard working people relate to other hardworking people.”
But not every parent took the union’s side. At May Elementary in Englewood, parent Areaun Martin said, “I blame the teachers. They didn’t have to strike...They should just come back and let these kids go to school. It’s too much going on out here in Englewood to have these babies out in the street.”
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) was holding out hope for an abbreviated strike.
“At this early stage, a lot of parents are taking vacation days or sick days or whatever,” he said. “In the short term, it’s not as big a problem as it could be if this goes on for a while, which hopefully, it won’t.”
Contributing: Kara Spak, Maudlyne Ihejirika, Dan Mihalopoulos, Lisa Donovan.