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Some Parents Sending Kids To Charter Schools Due To Teachers' Strike

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Public school parents frustrated by the length of the Chicago teachers' strike are looking for other educational options, and the city's charter schools have reported a record number of calls.

CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker some parents are just asking questions, but others are enrolling their children for classes at charter schools.

Five-year-old Anthony spent his first week of school at Jesse Owens Elementary Community Academy. But, after the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike, and the walkout dragged on several days, Anthony's mom got fed up and Anthony is now enrolled at Lloyd Bond Charter School.

"It was just very stressful for me, and I started to get angry, because I'm like 'Why is it lasting this long?" Leondra Smith said.

She is among nearly 30 parents who enrolled their children in charter schools since last week.

According to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, 12 percent of Chicago students attend charter schools. That percentage is expected to grow, because calls to charter schools from frustrated CPS parents have jumped from an average of 10 a day to nearly 70.

Stacy McAuliffe, chief operating officer of INCS, said that tells her "that there is demand, that they're knocking on the doors, that parents are taking action, and proactively reaching out to try to find the best school for their child. And charter schools are a very essential part of that. In our mind, that's part of the solution; a very critical part."

But it isn't necessarily the better academic solution.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, 73 percent of elementary school students in charter schools meet or exceed state testing standards, compared to 75 percent of students at traditional Chicago Public Schools.

Asked if it bothers her that some parents are putting their kids in charter schools, rather than waiting for the teachers' strike to end and traditional public schools to open again, striking teacher Jeannie Pimentel said she wouldn't put her child in a charter school if she were a parent.

"But parents have a right to send their children to where they want to go," she said.

Fellow teacher Tanya Saunders-Wolffe said, "It bothers us, but I'm sure that parent will be back, because our parents love us at Jesse Owens."

But Smith said her son won't be going back to Owens.

"He's gonna be here [at Bond] until he graduates," she said.

Charter school administrators have said there's a waiting list of about 19,000 students to get into charter schools. However, they still encourage parents to call, because sometimes a spot opens up at the last minute.

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