Parents and community members are entering the 4th week of a hunger strike in Chicago. While the issues may seem at first glance specific to Dyett High School, the protest is really about the top-down, private control school reform regime in Chicago and elsewhere. In essence the parents are demanding
- An open-enrollment neighborhood public school.
- A school that is properly resourced.
- A school that is community-based and provides children 21st century skills rather than rote learning.
These are also the core issues ignored by top-down, private control school reform in New Orleans, Detroit, Tennessee etc.
I was blown away by Anna Jones’, one of the parents involved in the Dyett Hunger Strike, recent testimony.
My name is Anna Jones. I have four children. My three younger children are in elementary school, and my eighth grader will be starting high school in the fall.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools in “low-income neighborhoods” for “underutilization.” The largest number of school closings in history.I’m no politician but I do know that schools underutilized are schools underfunded. “UNDERFUND=UNDERUTILIZE.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know, that if you don’t invest in something, there is no use for it. That if public schools in Bronzeville were getting the same funds as public schools in Lincoln Park, that public schools would be equally utilized and not “over utilized” verses underutilize
Emanuel’s idea to close 50 schools devastated me and the aftermath broke my heart. School is overcrowded and filthy daily, Children eat breakfast in the hallway or the classroom sometimes the gym room, kids with disabilities receive their services under the stairwell and are often distracted, the nurse is only available on Tuesday and her office is the security guard’s desk, 1 teacher’s aide in the entire building with 500 students, a k-1 split class, no books, no library, nor librarian, no restorative justice, no science lab, no after school programs, absolutely no reading teacher for over 3 months in my daughter’s eighth grade year, my kids being inappropriately handled by staff and the district’s policy has destroyed good teacher’s passion and ability to teach etc. To add insult to injury my children were flooded with test that took away from basic instruction that did nothing to support their achievements. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn but every time I looked in the eyes of my boys and girls (especially my eldest) I accepted that giving up could never be an option.
The community has been fighting for Dyett high school since 2009. In 2013 I was proud and relieved to join the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School. There I found hope again and a team of likeminded good people (parents, educators, organizing partners and community leaders) creating a world class plan with 2 common interests: the children and the community by which they live.
I feel like I’ve been robbed of my tax dollars therefore my children have been robbed of their education. I can’t get that time lost back. That’s why I’m committed to the fight for a community-driven Dyett Global leadership and green technology high school.
Our schools and communities are impoverished and becoming more impoverished due to the misappropriation of tax payer’s dollars as a plan to wipe-out low-income neighborhoods intentionally for personal profit and gain . “WE PAY TAX DOLLARS- WE’VE INVESTED IN EDUCATION JUST LIKE THE UPPER CLASS”.
We will continue to fight, as long as it takes, until justice is served to our children on a platter. All children across the nation deserve a world class equal education opportunity no matter what.
The elephant in the room is that parents in wealthier areas don’t have to go on hunger strikes to make these demands for their children. According to the State Board of Education, per pupil operational spending in CPS is $13,433. What do the wealthy spend on their students in Illinois? Reboot Illinois reported which districts spend the most money per student.
I think you get a feel for the very obvious disparity in the provision of education for rich and poor in Illinois. There are districts in Illinois spending almost double what CPS spends. Sadly, the disparities between the provision of rich and poor is quite similar across the United States— it’s glaring. High quality education and resources are purposefully rationed for poor children on purpose, or accidentally on purpose. I once heard Brother Jitu characterize this as “sabotage.”
Here is how you get the latest on the hunger strike from Twitter and Facebook:
You can find daily updates on Brotha Jitu’s Facebook page here.
These photos are also from his page.
Here is the Sac State College of Education faculty and students in solidarity with the Dyett hunger strikers.
Join the fight with solidarity fasts (See hunger strike for community-based public schools #FightForDyett) and please engage on Twitter, Facebook and other traditional and social media platforms.
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