Dyett High Hunger Strike: Things To Know


Today, the twelve parents engaged in a hunger strike in support of Dyett High School in the Chicago southside neighborhood of Bronzeville are marking their first full week of their action. Here are some things to know.

What Is This About?

In 2012, Chicago Public Schools decided to close Dyett, allowing the last freshman class to finish their education there if they wished. Only a handful wished (and they were reportedly pressured by CPS to wish differently), but they’re done, and the time has come to decide what Dyett will become.

There are three proposals out there.

First, an arts and design academy to be run by Little Black Pearl, an arts group that has shown no particular expertise in running charter schools. I would provide a link, but for whatever reason, all attempts to get to littleblackpearl.org a 403 forbidden message. Second, an athletics-based school backed by Dyett principal Charles Campbell. The Sun-Times also links a Mark Coleman to the proposal as a guy who runs a nonprofit, but I can’t find anything about him. I can, however, find aMark Coleman who runs a media company that specializes in lining up financing for big projects– that Mark Coleman lists Barack Obama and Ari Emmanuel as his “influencers,” but that could be some other Mark Coleman. The athletics school proposal came in after the CPS deadline for proposals.

The third proposal, the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, came from the community itself, early and complete with a partnership with DuSable University, Chicago Botanical Gardens and others. You can read the whole proposal here.

(Nobody, it should be noted, is proposing a group of robust charters so that the people of Bronzeville can have many excellent local choices.)

Um, Wait a Minute

In a poor, black neighborhood of Chicago, there’s an outside proposal for entertainment industry, an outside proposal for sports, and a community proposal for science, technology and leadership. I respect athletics, and you know I love the arts, but you tell me which one of these proposals sets the highest aspirations for the children of this community.

Bronzeville is poor, but they have worked hard for their school (back in 2011, just before the district dropped the hammer, they won a grant from ESPN to rebuild their athletic facilities with big fancy upgrades like working handles for doors). They were improving and growing stronger. There’s no question they needed some help, but a search doesn’t turn up stories suggesting that Dyett was some sort of notorious hellhole in freefall.

So, What’s Really Going On

Well, Dyett is located in the northern end of Washington Park, a very desirable chunk of real estate that is one of the two locations in the running to be the location of Barack Obama’s Presidential Library. In fact, the proposed location is within a stone’s throw of Dyett. Read more>>