Activists from Chicago have been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks to save Chicago’s Dyett High School, which has been closed.
This week, two hunger strikers will join American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and civil rights leaders in Washington DC to deliver a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a native Chicagoan, urging him to push Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel to do the right thing.
The activists are demanding that the mayor reopen Dyett as a community school that provides wraparound services for students and their families, with a focus on green technology and leadership—an education plan that was developed by community and education experts working together.
The impetus for the Dyett hunger strike—started on Aug. 17 by education activists, parents and community members—has been years in the making as the community has suffered from neighborhood school closures, destruction of public housing and gentrification.
National Education Association President Eskelsen García issued a statement in solidarity with the fight to save the school.
“Today, I humbly joined the growing chorus of voices calling on elected and appointed leaders in Chicago, and here in Washington, to do the right thing and reopen Dyett High School as a high-quality neighborhood public school,” she said Wednesday.
“All students, regardless of their ZIP code, deserve the support, tools and time to learn,” she said.
This hunger strike has garnered major attention all over the world, but Mayor Emanuel has not yet acted.
Activists hope that by reaching out to Duncan—former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools—they can give their community a fighting chance to have one high-quality neighborhood public high school for their children.