Arizona Parents Adjust To A Day Without (Most) Teachers

By Mariana Dale, Casey Kuhn
Published: Friday, April 27, 2018 - 8:28am
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2018 - 2:54pm

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Erin Flanagan and her daughter
(Photo by Mariana Dale-KJZZ)
Erin Flanagan's daughter Liana said if she was at school in the morning she might be playing outside or learning math, but today she's excited to get a manicure with her mom.

Schools were closed in more than 100 Arizona districts Thursday and working parents scrambled to find an alternative.

A little after 7 a.m., Daniel Wise walked his son Elijah past the swimming pool at the Tempe Family YMCA and into an activity room.

“You OK, buddy? OK. I love you,” Wise said before heading back out the door.

Wise’s son is one of an estimated 850,000 students who were affected by the walkout.

“It did throw a little wrench in our plans, but I understand why they’re doing it and I applaud them," he said. "It’s different, but they deserve what they deserve.”

Usually Elijah goes to a different YMCA before school, but the Tempe location was one designated for all day care during the walkout.

“We provide childcare. Whenever there is a need for childcare, the Y provides it,” said District Executive Director Garrett Brolsma. “This just happens to be a different type of day.”

Tempe Family YMCA
(Photo by Mariana Dale-KJZZ)
Cubbies start to fill up with sack lunches at the Tempe Family YMCA on Thursday morning.

Here’s a glance at what childcare looked like around the Valley:

  • The YMCA counted about 250 kids across 12 locations Thursday. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix counted just over 1,300 kids. Mesa Public Schools opened four childcare centers and took in 188 kids before lunchtime.
  • The Scottsdale Unified School District served 107 free breakfasts and lunches to students.
  • The Washington Elementary School District took care of kids at 13 schools and dished out more than 600 free breakfasts and more than 1,000 lunches.
  • Mesa Public Schools opened four childcare centers and took in 202 kids.

“If the walk out continues, we anticipate our usage growing significantly as more long term care options will be needed by families,” said YMCA spokesperson Katie Smetana in an email.

Parents Supporting Teachers

Yesenia Andrade’s son was able to stay home with his dad Thursday, but she was at the Y researching options should the strike continue.

“If we need to do this to support the teachers than we need to do what I gotta do,” Andrade said. 

She says she’s behind the educators 100 percent.

“If I was being demoted and being like not given a raise that I deserve. I would be doing the same thing.”

RELATED: Schools Come Together To Feed Families During Arizona Teacher Strike

Up the street from the YMCA, Erin Flanagan shared a piece of coffee cake with her daughter outside a Dutch Bros. coffee shop. 

“I kinda just had to take the day off really, didn’t have other choices,” Flanagan said.

The single parent was able to take Thursday and Friday off from her job as a pediatric dental assistant, but if the strike stretches into next week she’ll need to find alternative care for her daughter.

“It gets a little complicated obviously because I live more of a paycheck to paycheck,” said Flanagan.

Take Your Kids To The Capitol

Isabel Martinez dressed her daughters in red polo shirts and brought them to the main demonstration at the state Capitol.

“I know that my daughter’s teacher does Uber Eats until late at night just so she can make ends meet and that’s just not fair.”

She also walked with her mother, who’s been an instructional assistant for more than 30 years and makes just over $12 an hour.

“I love my job, I like everything,” her mother Elda said smiling.

Even the paycheck?

“I don’t like the paycheck,” Elda said. “To tell the truth I’d just like that the kids have a better education and better materials.”

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