Chicago School Closure Proposal Inspires Hunger Strike


A hunger strike began early last week in Chicago by twelve school activists calling for an end to the delay of decisions by Chicago Public Schools concerning the future of Dyett High School.

The twelve members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School participating in the hunger strike will be joined by Reverend Jesse Jackson.  The group has vowed only to consume water and “light liquids” in front of the now-closed school to show their support of the re-opening of the school as a green technology and global leadership academy.  There are currently two other contract school proposals being considered by CPS, an athletic career academy and a school for the arts.

KOCO education organizer Jitu Brown said he believes CPS is not taking their green technology suggestion seriously.

“We’re tired of going to CPS board meetings with people that’s not listening to us. We’re tired of developing world-class proposals – which is not our job as parents, but we do it because we love our children, and we want something better for them – and we’re ignored,” he said.

Brown said the protesters would stay “as long as the creator allows us to be out here.”  He added that the group decided on going forward with the strike as a result of a long series of delays concerning the final decision with regards to the school.  The first announcement about the closing came in 2009, determining that the school would be phased out in 2015.

“Chicago Public Schools is carrying out a community-driven process to select a new high-quality school for the former Dyett site,” said Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for CPS. “Identifying a high-quality education option for the former Dyett site is a priority for the district, and CPS is reviewing school proposals to determine the best open enrollment, neighborhood education option for the site.”

CPS had planned to hold a public hearing concerning the three proposals last Monday, but the event ended up being pushed back to September 10 due to other concerns including budget plans.  School officials said the date change occurred in order to provide “adequate time to review community feedback and proposals.”

However, coalition members feel too much time has passed in the consideration of the proposal.  The group officially launched in November of 2013, although they have discussed plans for the school since 2009.

“We’ve been jumping over every hoop. We’ve gone to every board meeting. We have sat with every important CPS official, only for them to leave, and then having to start over again,” Brown said. “So no, we’re not waiting anymore.”

The last senior class graduated from the school last June.  The school will be closed for the 2015-16 school year as CPS officials determine what type of school should be reopened for the 2016-17 school year.