Friday, August 14, 2020
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Hunger strike may #SaveDyett H.S. in Chicago

Twelve parent activists in Chicago went on a hunger strike on Aug 17 over the future of Dyett High School, which closed in June. Plans to reopen the school as a public school focusing on green technology or under a contract manager are in the works, DNA Info reports.

A rally to stop Chicago from closing schools in 2009 (Peoples World / Flickr Creative Commons)

Jitu Brown helped lead the fight for educational justice for the parents and students of Chicago’s south side, as Voxitatis reported in 2013. The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School has worked for more than three years to create a sustainable school community in the Bronzeville area of Chicago. Activists are hoping for an open-enrollment, neighborhood high school that has parent support, but their efforts are being thwarted by Chicago Public Schools.

The Rev Jesse Jackson joined those parents last week. “Why is this fight still ongoing?” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying. “These parents have been legitimately asking for equal, high-quality public education in their neighborhood. We want to know from the mayor, the school board, why that has been blocked.”

The closure of Dyett High School this summer, after a “phasing out” period that gradually eroded the quality of education provided to low-income students of color in Chicago, is the tip of the iceberg of the great injustices committed against these students as part of corporate school reform. We join the voices of the coalition in calling on the school system to reinvigorate this great piece of Chicago history. Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, and Bo Diddley are among the school’s esteemed alumni.

It’s time to stop depriving these students of a high-quality education, and we believe the most efficient and cost-effective way to do that is by investing in existing public neighborhood schools, not by bringing in a corporate management team, which will in many cases lead to corruption and a greater reduction in the quality of education these students receive.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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  1. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a hunger striker collapsed on this, the 10th day of the #FightForDyett hunger strike. So far, two strikers have required medical attention after giving up solid food.

    The group Teachers for Social Justice had this to say about the hunger strike, expressing solidarity with the hunger strikers:

    The continued assault on high quality public education in Black communities is another form of violence against Black youth in Chicago. Like arbitrary and invasive stops and frisks on Chicago streets—the same streets on which these schools are being closed—educational inequities serve as a reminder that young Black people are not valued by the City of Chicago.

    The Illinois Federation of Teachers has also joined in supporting the strikers. “These hunger strikers are doing something sacred for their schools and their community,” the Tribune quoted Dan Montgomery, union president, as saying.

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