How Oklahoma Parents Are Dealing With Teacher Walkouts : NPR Ed For many parents, nine days of missed school is a logistical headache. That's why YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and religious organizations have provided places for parents to bring their kids.

How Oklahoma Parents Are Dealing With Teacher Walkouts

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Schools across Oklahoma have been closed for nine days and counting. Teachers are rallying at the state capitol. They want more school funding. A deal with lawmakers could be close, but until then, many teachers will not go back to their classrooms. We've heard from parents across the state who say they support the teachers, but they are also scrambling to make things work at home. Emily Wendler with StateImpact Oklahoma has the story.

EMILY WENDLER, BYLINE: Nine days of a teacher walkout means nine days of headaches for parents trying to figure out where to take their kids. Turns out, the YMCA, Boys and Girls clubs, churches, even the Oklahoma City Zoo, hundreds of organizations in the state are providing childcare for parents and meals for their kids.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Make new friends...

WENDLER: The Girl Scouts has turned its western Oklahoma headquarters into a camp for the past week and a half. On Wednesday, day eight of the walkout, a group of girls were practicing a well-known Girl Scout song to perform later on in the day.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) That's how long I want to be your friend.

WENDLER: And when it comes time to pick up their kids, I ask parents like Don Anderson.

How essential is this?

DON ANDERSON: Oh, this is fantastic. It's not only for me, for all the other parents, too.

WENDLER: Anderson is a parent and teacher, and he's been bringing his two daughters here while he's been rallying at the state capitol. He says he realizes the walkout has been stressful for a lot of people, and he's got a little guilt about it.

ANDERSON: I feel bad for all the parents. And I feel bad for the teachers.

WENDLER: Another working parent, Zanade Morgan, who's been bringing her daughters here too. She says she exhausted her family resources by the end of the first week of the walkout, and she was excited when she heard about this Girl Scout camp.

ZANADE MORGAN: It was very heartwarming to know that there are people out there that, you know, care about those parents who don't have anybody to care for their children.

WENDLER: This walkout hasn't been easy, Morgan says, but she's still on the teachers' side.

MORGAN: That is our funding, so I was excited for them. So I was like, hey, we'll figure it out.

WENDLER: In fact, I heard that from a lot of parents, even in week two.

SUSAN MAYBERRY: Everyone that I have talked to is totally for the teachers.

ALEYSHA DAILEY: As far as I'm concerned, this is no different. It's an additional complication, sure, but the long term fallout to me will be completely worth it.

BRITTANI GROESBECK: I'm all for whatever it takes.

WENDLER: That's Susan Mayberry, Aleysha Dailey and Brittani Groesbeck. And a deal could be near. The teacher's union recently rolled back its demands. Instead of 150 million, the ask now is for lawmakers to raise another 50 million to end the walkout. That means parents could get a break soon - that is, until summer. For NPR News, I'm Emily Wendler in Oklahoma City.


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