Senior citizens from Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood plan to hold a sit-in and prayer circle outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office at City Hall on Wednesday morning in support of the Dyett hunger strikers.
More than 50 Chicago education activists escalated their fight late Tuesday afternoon to save Bronzeville's Walter H. Dyett High School from closing at the end of this academic year.
Protesters chained themselves together and staged a sit-in outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office on the fifth floor of City Hall to demand equity for the 13 remaining seniors at Dyett.
The Chicago Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett in 2012 due to poor academic performance, and the school is slated to close completely in 2015 after its last senior class graduates.
The activists with the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, a group spearheaded by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), also urged the Emanuel administration to endorse their community-driven blueprint to keep Dyett open beyond 2015 and offer global leadership and green technology classes at the school, along with other programs involving agricultural sciences and cultural awareness. Community members have been developing the education plan for several years and formally presented it to the school district at the Chicago Board of Education's monthly meeting in April.
Despite passionate opposition from parents and community members, Chicago Public Schools officials are moving forward with plans to fire and replace all of Walter Q. Gresham Elementary's staff members.
Parents upset with the Chicago Public Schools' decision to turnaround Walter Q. Gresham Elementary reportedly had a meeting Tuesday evening with district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and school board President David Vitale.
At a Walter Q. Gresham Elementary Local School Council meeting Tuesday evening, community members, parents and others pledged to keep the fight alive to save the Chicago public school from having its entire staff fired and replaced.
Casita, which served as a volunteer-run library that provided computer
access, English classes and after-school programs to local residents of
Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood on the Southwest Side, was torn down without notice. District officials cited safety concerns and severe
disrepair to the CPS-owned fieldhouse that was being used as a community
center until the moment a demolition crew arrived on August 17.
happened, I found to be very unjust, very traumatizing,” said Lisa
Angonese, 52, executive director of La Casita and member of the Whittier
Parents Committee (WPC), which ran the community center’s programming.
“We saw a demolition of a precious and valuable building right before
our very eyes, traumatizing to the parents, children and members of the
community members held a Saturday afternoon vigil outside Whittier
Elementary to mourn the loss of the school’s fieldhouse, which was
completely demolished earlier that morning due to safety concerns cited
by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Community members and parents said CPS
gave them no notice before demolition crews showed up Friday night to
start tearing down the fieldhouse, known as La Casita, that served as a
volunteer-run community center owned by CPS.
A number of
protestors spent the night outside the fieldhouse Friday, and 10
people were arrested after they tried to stop the building from being
leveled early Saturday morning. Chicago Police News Affairs confirmed on
Sunday that nine individuals were charged with criminal trespass and
one protestor was charged with criminal damage to property, both of
which are misdemeanors.
“I am outraged,” La Casita’s Executive
Director Lisa Angonese said at the vigil as bulldozers cleared away the
rubble. “This is completely uncalled for. They came in unannounced. They
showed us no work permits with no notice. Not even a knock on the door.
Not even a phone call.”