“I grew up where I currently live and I am a lifelong resident of the area.”

“I believe in public education very strongly, so I decided to put my kids through the public school system.”

“My son is autistic. He’s 10. And my daughter Olivia, aged 7, takes a long time to register information.”

“Before the pandemic, I was very pleased. I felt very supported by my district when I have pushed back and advocated for my child. I can’t say that I was disappointed.”

“One day, the kids, just never went back to school. I picked up their stuff and they never went back. And it was supposed to be two weeks. But then it turned out to be months, then the rest of the year.”

“This has never happened before. And I don’t think that any well-meaning adult that works with children really even knows what to do because no one’s been through this. We’re all just winging it.”

“We need to allow ourselves some grace, but do I feel cast aside? Yes.”

“It takes a team of people just to get my son to pay attention in transition, and he can do the work. He has the intelligence. He’s in general education. But his attention span makes it difficult.”

“I’ve been placed in this impossible position where I have to decide: ‘Do I want to be their mother or their drill sergeant?’ Not every parent has the skills to deal with that 24/7.”

“My oldest is a junior, and she’s stuck to the computer all day but she’s killing it. She’s making her stride. She’s earning A’s and B’s, and she’s on the road to college again.”

“I have friends that are really smart, educated people, but their kids’ grades are just tanking because this is an especially hard time for everybody.”

“I was very excited to hear that cluster and pre-k children were going back. That was amazing.”

“They went back two whole weeks, and then they were sent home due to the strike.”

“It’s so cruel.”

“I wanted to do something different to start the conversation in a big way.”

“I thought, ‘what better way than to hold a press conference in front of the Chicago Teachers Union?’ I contacted the press, and they showed up.”

“I spoke from the heart, something I had prepared alongside a couple other parents, and my 10-year-old son spoke as well.”

“When you speak a message and it’s the truth for someone else, it resonates with them.”

“All these parents are contacting me now and saying, ‘thank you.’”

“CTU gave no response. Nothing.”

“My plan going forward is to keep speaking my message bravely and proudly. Some people are afraid. I’ve spoken to some parents that refuse to speak up because they don’t want to get lumped into the smear campaigns. For example, one accuses parents who push for reopening of being ‘privileged white parents.’”

“I don’t identify with that statement. I agree there is white privilege because of my skin color, but I’m not going to silence my voice because someone thinks I shouldn’t be speaking.”

“Teachers have been paid this whole pandemic, but when vocal parents are saying they have a need for something, they’re called privileged.”

“Have these teachers missed a payment on their bills during the pandemic? Do they fear their utilities will be cut off ? I doubt it because they’re still being paid this whole time.”

“But it happened to me. I had my utilities shut off for non-payment.”

“During the pandemic, I went through a divorce which cut off the money and food for us for a while. Luckily, we never went without because of the kindness of family and friends.”

“But sometimes all we had was the school food.”

“I was thrown into this life, but for some people, this is their everyday life. They struggle to eat and find food. This is new to me, and I’m struggling.”

“There is nothing more humbling than that experience: to realize you’re just one disaster away from anyone else.”

“Some teachers give speeches saying they’re scared, but [it’s been in the news] that their kids are going to private school every day.”

“When I see the teachers of my children in the grocery store with their kids, it feels like a complete double standard that they’re not at work.”

“I use those moments as my fuel to do another interview or write another article because I’m tired of this.”

“I encourage parents to speak out to the media, against the teachers’ unions.”

“This is the first time in the history of teachers’ strikes that parents across the city are uniting to speak against the union. There were ‘return to school’ rallies in both the Englewood neighborhood, and on the North Side.”

“And that was important for me to support and to see, because it’s not just the parents that are speaking out. There are 77,000 students in the city ready to come back – that’s a lot of parents and families that are affected.”

“It’s OK to say I’m tired and I need my village. And teachers are an important part of society. They are essential.”

“But they don’t have to walk away from children that are in a building, waiting there, and ready to learn. The children are innocent. They have severe disabilities. They’re just babies. They’re 3-years-old and unable to comprehend why teachers are abandoning them again.”

“The teachers have a job to do, and they’re not doing it.”

Sarah Sachen
Chicago, Illinois