Chicago parent relieved her daughter is back in school

Striking Chicago public school teachers picket outside Roberto Clemente High School on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Ill.

The Chicago teacher's strike lasted seven school days (or nine days in real life). But it felt like eternity to parents as they struggled to find childcare for the city's 350,000 kids who were supposed to be in school.

Sheila Coleman has a 12-year-old daughter who was out of school during the strike. We reached Ms. Coleman on the first day of the strike, and called her back today to see how she fared.

Coleman says she's "elated" that her daughter is back in school, explaining that she wasn't able to take any time off work and couldn't bring her daughter to her office. Instead, she juggled childcare duties and schedules with other members of the family.

"It seemed like it was going to be a whole two weeks," she says. "I didn't think they were going to be back in school, but I was very excited that they were."

Coleman is one of countless parents who didn't have vacation days to spare, and couldn't afford to stop working in order to be home with her daughter. 

She says if the strike had lasted longer, she would have faced some tough choices.  "I would have had to stay home with her some days. If we hadn't found out about [going back to school] today, I was going to teach her at home." 

Without vacation time, that would have cost her "at least $300 to $400."

"That could be three or four bills for me," she says. 

But, at the end of the day, she's still where she was at Day 1 -- with the teachers.

"I don't even feel it should've been a strike," says Coleman. "They should've just given the teachers what they wanted.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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