Community goes on hunger strike for Dyett High School

Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett gathered with community members in front of Dyett High School, Monday, for a hunger strike in a last-ditch effort to call attention to what they believe is an unfair request for proposal (RFP) process led by Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  Photo by Allison Matyus
Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett gathered with community members in front of Dyett High School, Monday, for a hunger strike in a last-ditch effort to call attention to what they believe is an unfair request for proposal (RFP) process led by Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

-Photo by Allison Matyus

BY ALLISON MATYUS
Staff Writer

In a last-ditch effort to call attention to what they believe is an unfair request for proposal (RFP) process led by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), protestors gathered at Dyett High School on Monday morning to participate in a hunger strike.

Anger has been building up in the community about the future of Dyett, 555 E. 51st St., which is the last open enrollment neighborhood school in Bronzeville. Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett refuse to see the school become a contract school under CPS.

Members of the coalition include the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Journey for Justice Alliance.

“This is what it has come to,” said Erana Jackson Taylor, a KOCO member and 1981 alumni of Dyett. “We will be out here all day … as long as it takes to get the message across to CPS about their fragmented process.”

Recent events that have led up to the protest include a postponed community hearing on Dyett’s RFP process and indifference from Ald. Will Burns (4th) about KOCO’s proposed plans for the school.

A large group of parents, community members, educators and alumni gathered on the front lawn of Dyett to stand in solidarity against the decision-making process of CPS. Also in attendance was formal mayoral contender Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-7th) to support the strikers.

Jitu Brown, national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, led the protestors in song and chant saying, “Whose school? Our school!”

“We’ve been driven to this point,” Brown said. “There are parents who pay taxes feeling so unheard that we are going to starve ourselves.”

Brown said the group of people that gathered at Dyett have been involved with the struggle the entire way.

“We are not protestors, we are educators,” Brown said. “We understand what our children need.”

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett submitted a proposal created by academic advisors for the school in April, which was not accepted by Burns. Brown said neither of the competing proposals for Dyett come close to the level of community engagement or expertise that was originally proposed by the coalition.

“Alderman Will Burns needs to grow up and stop letting political likes and dislikes impact his views,” Brown said.

a.matyus@hpherald.com