//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsOn the south side of Chicago lies a vacant Walter H. Dyett High School. The abandoned institution has been the grounds of a somewhat peaceful protest. In fact, the only people that are hurting from this situation are the eight protesters who have decided to forgo eating food, only consuming liquids. Yes, it’s a hunger strike going on alright. Until Dyett was reopened and on their terms, according to The Huffington Post, the protesters would continue to starve themselves and risk their lives. Day in and day out, the group spent their days strategizing a plan to transform the school into the flourishing, community unifying institution it once was.
As of yesterday (Sept. 19), the demonstrators, which includes mothers, fathers, grandmothers, teachers and community organizers, endured 34 days of serious self-restraint and also ended their efforts, according Chicago Tribune. The group began the strike on Aug.17, nearly three years after it was announced that Dyett would be “closed due to low enrollment rates and poor academic performance.” Even with the Chicago Board of Education in talks of planning a way to restore the institution, Dyett officially closed its doors this summer in June.
In the past month, the protester’s efforts have seen results, but not the ones they set out to achieve. On Sept. 3, Chicago Public Schools announced that Dyett would be reopened for enrollment for the 2016-17 school year, but the school would be reemerge as an arts-focused school – not the green technology school the group wanted and believed would best serve the communities needs after much research.
Aside from the focus on the institution, protesters have a huge problem with how the district and city government bypass the the input of local parents and students – minorities in particular.
“What school district in their right mind would demonize and run away from parents that are activated to improve their schools?” protester Jitu Brown previously told The Huffington Post. “They just ignore us because they were hell-bent on closing this school and several other schools in this neighborhood, as if there’s no hope for black kids in neighborhood schools, and that’s just not true.”
Earlier this month, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool stated that the district worked alongside community partners when it came time decide the future of Dyett.
“We arrived at a solution that meets multiple needs: Creating an open enrollment neighborhood high school, producing an enrollment stream that can weather population changes, filling the critical demand for an arts high school on the south side and working with education leaders to create a technology hub,” he said in a statement.