With her two daughters kept out of school because of the Chicago teachers strike, Patricia Rodriguez was left with no other option than to take them with her to her job at a local laundromat this week. The Chicago teachers’ strike affected nearly 180,000 Latino children enrolled in the school district, many from disadvantaged families, Fox News Latino reports.
“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,” Rodriguez told Fox, of her 8- and 13-year old daughters. “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 news outlet reported that both girls said they’d prefer being at class to hanging out at the laundromat.
Many education policy experts are lamenting the negative impact on the mostly low-income Latino and black families missing out on school. Every day counts for such children.
Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institution wrote that poor students couldn’t afford to miss class. He noted that research has shown that teacher absenteeism–leaving students with substitute teachers– has a negative impact on academic performance. Being out of the school during the summer can also put students behind.
“In other words, the consequence of being out of school is to increase the already unacceptable large achievement gap between low-income students and their affluent peers,” writes Chingos.
The Education Trust also released a statement from Vice President Amy Wilkins calling the effect on the district’s poor, mostly Latino and black students, “tragic.”
“This strike needs to end now,” she wrote. “And the agreement that ends it needs to be one that creates conditions to boost Chicago’s dismal achievement, particularly among its low-income students.”
An article in The Huffington Post noted that the strike could prompt more Latino families to consider enrolling their children in charter schools, which are still open during the strike.
However, up until this point not as many Hispanics have chosen charter schools, said Juan Rangel, the CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization. UNO runs a group of charter schools in Illinois, and serves more than half of Latino children attending Illinois charters. Many are English language learners.
“”I think part of the problem is charters across the country have not been able to attract a lot of Hispanic students and English language learners,” Rangel said.