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Chicago Parents Elated To See Teachers’ Strike Over

Allen and Toni Packer, and their daughter Cyani Mayzure. (Credit: CBS)

Allen and Toni Packer, and their daughter Cyani Mayzure. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you heard cheering around the city at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, it was probably the sound of hundreds of thousands of parents and their kids hailing the end of the teachers’ strike.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker heard it, too, and talked to some of those celebrating the fact classes will resume on Wednesday at Chicago Public Schools.

We first met kindergarten student Cyani Mayzure on Sunday night. You might recall her plaintive question after the Chicago Teachers Union decided to keep the strike going for two more days while delegates reviewed a tentative deal with the Chicago Public Schools.

“Am I ever going back to school?” Cyani asked that night.

She was not smiling, but had a big grin on her face Tuesday when she learned the news the strike was over.

“That means I’m happy,” she said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

Her father, Allen Packer, said he was elated.

“I loved the time with her. Any time with her is precious,” he said. “But I’m happy that everything came to an agreement and everybody’s on the same page.”

In the North Lawndale neighborhood, there were cheers and applause as parents heard the news on a big screen TV.

Stacy Atkins said, “I think this is fantastic. It’s well overdue and I’m excited about it and let’s get going.”

Her daughter, student Sarah Atkins, said she was excited, “because I feel like I’m getting behind in school, because we haven’t been learning anything.”

In Daley Plaza, dozens of parents gathered to celebrate the walkout’s end, but also to call for changes to a school system they call “broken.”

And one mother of a 1st grader questioned the value of the strike.

“I feel like a lot was missed out,” Jada Washington said. “He was learning a lot, they just started writing sentences and then the strike comes and I feel like, what?”

About three dozen people – many of them parents – gathered at Daley Plaza Tuesday evening for a rally supporting quality education.

They said they are thrilled that the strike is over, but Chris Butler, director of the advocacy group New Schools for Chicago, said, “The unfortunate thing is that while our students will be back in the classroom – 123,000 of those students are going back to poor-performing schools.”

The parents and educators at the rally were mostly connected to charter schools, which were unaffected by the strike, but they said they support quality schools across the board.

Washington said, “I know the strike is over, but I don’t think anything will change. … I’m thinking of going to charter schools.”

Washington said she doesn’t think charter schools are affected by strikes as much.

“Less students-to-teachers (ratio). … And so I want to go there,” she said, to enroll her son.

One mother was very cautious about celebrating the “suspension” of the teachers’ strike.

She said she’s bothered by the words “tentative” and “anticipated” when discussing the deal reached by school and union negotiators.

“Is this going to be permanent?,” she wondered. “Is this really going to last?”

The answer to that question won’t be known until the union completes a vote on whether to ratify the deal with the district.