Burns responds to Jay Travis

To the Editor

Jay Travis asserts in her letter to the editor September 4, 2015 that public pressure lead me to fight to reverse the decision to close Dyett High School.

Everyone, including Ms. Travis, is entitled to their opinion, but the facts are the facts. In 2012, I stood shoulder to shoulder with the Bronzeville Community Action Council in direct opposition of closing Dyett High School. My opposition to closing Dyett is documented in correspondence to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then CPS schools chief, Jean-Claude Brizard also in 2012.

In 2013 the Bronzeville Community Action Council (BCAC) issued a report calling for Dyett High School to be re-opened as a neighborhood open enrollment school with a special focus including arts education.

More recently, re-opening Dyett High School was a key plank in my re-election campaign last year.

My call for Dyett to be re-opened is not a result of Ms. Travis and her friends’ agitation, but rather because stakeholders throughout Bronzeville – many of whom serve on the BCAC – expressed a demand that the school be re-opened.

Indeed, it must be noted that Kenwood Oakland Community Organization’s (KOCO) organizing efforts regarding Dyett High School have centered exclusively on re- opening the school and handing control of the school over to them. That is the sole reason for the continued protests, even after CPS announced that the school would be re-opened as an arts focused high school with a technology innovation lab.

Of course, most Bronzeville residents know the real story. Last year, many community residents attempted to participate in a planning session on the future of the Dyett. During that session and in a breakout group, community residents who expressed a different vision for the school outside of KOCO’s plan were yelled at, booed, and otherwise intimidated by KOCO and its adherents.

One organization cannot hold an entire community hostage. The hunger strike should end and we are encouraging KOCO to come together and work with the rest of the Bronzeville community to make the new Dyett High School a success for everyone.

Alderman William D. Burns
Fourth Ward, City of Chicago