Twelve parents from Bronzeville and allies from communities across Chicago launch a hunger strike in front of Dyett High School to call out the injustice suffered at the hands of CPS and the appointed Board of Education and to demand the adoption of the Global Leadership and Green Technology plan for Dyett. Stall tactics and patronage politics from CPS have driven everyday people to use their bodies to stand in the way of further injustice. Instead of honoring their commitment to the process they outlined, CPS and the new education chair for Chicago’s City Council, Ald. Will Burns, have subverted the rules to “grease the rails” for an underperforming contract operator to acquire Dyett High School.
The sabotage of and fight for Dyett has raged since CPS decided to convert a highly-successful middle school to a high school over a 3-month period in 1999. Horrified by the inability of the first graduating senior class in 2003 to experience college prep or advanced placement classes or a full-time librarian; community members began to invest in the school through the local school council to infuse critical programs and neighborhood partnerships into the building. The fruits of that labor yielded the highest increase in students attending post-secondary institutions in 2008, and the highest decrease in out-of-school suspensions and arrests in 2009. Despite steady significant gains, the Mayoral-appointed Board of Education members voted to phase-out the school in 2012; and the mass erosion of investment to prepare those students for success.
Galvanized by this injustice and emboldened by their record of success, parents and concerned residents began to work with educational experts within Chicago and around the country to develop an academic plan based on the community wishes. Through a series of focus groups, town hall meetings, and extensive consultation with community and educational institutions, the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology academic plan was developed. Some of the same experts who have developed Level 1 high schools in Chicago led the design team that created this plan in direct consultation with the community over a 4-year period. Neither of the competing proposals for Dyett come close to this level of community engagement or expertise.