CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called on Chicago Board of Education President Frank Clark and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to end their plan to eliminate Bronzeville’s only neighborhood high school as more than a dozen parents, grandparents, activists and clergy enter day three of a hunger strike. The union leader expressed support for the demonstrators and encouraged others to join them in solidarity.
“I respect these brave people who are willing to put their bodies on the line for education for their children in this year of resistance,” Lewis said. “I’m calling on the Board and the mayor to call a special hearing so this hunger strike can end before someone becomes seriously ill. I also stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight to save Bronzeville’s only neighborhood high school.”
More than 12 people have committed to not only go without food, but to also sleep in outdoor tents during the evening and protest in front of the school at 555 E. 51st Street during the day. Instead of addressing the Dyett issue at next week’s Board of Education meeting, the district rescheduled the hearing to mid-September—a move that was not only strange but disingenuous.
Dyett High School has been the scene of significance resistance since Chicago Public Schools moved to close the school in 2010, despite pleas from parents and a powerful coalition of educators, philanthropists, community organizations and others who offered a comprehensive plan to strengthen the school. For five years, parents, educators and others have engaged in protests that have led to arrests, while trying to get school district officials to consider their school revitalization plan.
“Those with the moral courage and those who believe in strong neighborhood high schools should join these parents in this historic and courageous act,” Lewis said. “My thoughts and prayers are with these bold individuals who are engaging in an ultimate act of resistance. [Board President] Frank Clark and Mayor Emanuel must not ignore these voices. Save Dyett High School.”