Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dyett High School Opens: 2015 Hunger Strike Redefines Meaning of ‘School Closure’ | janresseger

Dyett High School Opens: 2015 Hunger Strike Redefines Meaning of ‘School Closure’ | janresseger:

Dyett High School Opens: 2015 Hunger Strike Redefines Meaning of ‘School Closure’

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The Chicago Tribune published a major story covering the first day of school on the Tuesday after Labor Day at Dyett High School in Chicago. Why was Dyett’s first day of school this year so important?  Here is reporter Juan Perez Jr.: “Freshmen walking through the doors of Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts on the South Side experienced feelings similar to those of new high school students everywhere, a mix of first-day jitters and bashful excitement. But for the Washington Park and Bronzeville neighborhoods, the first day of classes Tuesday at Dyett had deeper significance. Families living nearby once again have an open-enrollment high school in their neighborhood. Parents don’t have to worry about their children taking buses or trains to far-off schools. And they don’t have to send their kids to privately run charter schools if they want to take honors or Advanced Placement classes.”
Perez continues: “A first day of school at Dyett wasn’t supposed to have happened this fall. But after a yearslong protest by community leaders that included a 34-day hunger strike, Chicago Public Schools reversed its decision to close Dyett at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. ‘When you go to a middle-class white community you don’t see charter schools, contract schools or alternative schools.  You see effective, K-12 systems of education in their neighborhoods. Our children deserve the same,’ said Jitu Brown, a community activist who took part in the hunger strike.”
Only a year ago, led by community organizer Jitu Brown, hunger strikers were sitting in Washington Park protesting not only the scheduled closing of Dyett High School but also a federal education policy that has defined school closure as one of the four prescribed ways to turn around a low scoring school.  Chicago had closed a record 50 schools at the end of 2013—justifying the plan as a way to turn around so-called “failing” schools and describing uneven enrollment patterns.
Beyond saving a neighborhood high school for Chicago’s Bronzeville Neighborhood, the Dyett Hunger Strike significantly changed the national conversation about test-and-punish school policy. Hunger strikers redefined the meaning of “school closure.” While No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top had defined school closure as what was called “a school-improvement Dyett High School Opens: 2015 Hunger Strike Redefines Meaning of ‘School Closure’ | janresseger:
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