BY AMZAD ALI, age 12, and IndyKids staff
In 2013, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that it would be shutting down 129 low-performing schools. Chicago students, families, teachers and community activists have protested the closures with marches, sit-ins and a hunger strike.
One of the 54 schools so far is Dyett High School, located in the Bronzeville section of Chicago. Due to the fact that Dyett was the only high school in Bronzeville, it’s closure forced many students to enroll in schools that were far from their homes. When schools close, kids have to travel long distances to other schools, which can cost their families a lot of money.
“Children should not have to catch a bus, a train, and a mule to get to school,” Anna Jones, Chicago mother of four school-aged children told the New York Times. The closure disproportionately harmed black families, since Bronzeville is a low-income neighborhood with a population that is primarily African-American. In fact, according to a study by the University of Chicago, 88% of students affected by the 54 Chicago public school closures are black.
In response, 12 members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School—including Anna Jones—launched a hunger strike on August 17, 2015. They demanded that Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel re-open Dyett.
“Neighborhood schools are part of the fabric of a neighborhood,” Jesse Starkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told Al Jazeera.
On September 20, 2015, the 34-day hunger strike ended. CPS announced plans for Dyett High School to reopen for the 2016-17 school year as a school focused on arts and technology. The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School has been working closely with CPS to ensure that the new Dyett is the best it can be.