Paul Vallas, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate, talks with Progress Illinois about important issues at stake in the November gubernatorial election and his priorities for the lieutenant governor's office if elected.
U.S. Department of Education officials heard first-hand stories about the impact public school closings and consolidations are having in Chicago at a South Side community meeting held Monday night with parents, students and their supporters.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently looking into a complaint filed by education activists alleging "racially discriminatory" school actions and closings in Chicago. Organizers with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School spearheaded the town hall meeting, held at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. The discussion was designed to allow education department reps to hear directly from the people affected by the school actions cited in the complaint. The two education department officials were at the meeting strictly to listen.
About 100 members of the Chicago Students Unionand their allies marched in support of an elected school board and adequate neighborhood school funding during a downtown protest Monday afternoon. Progress Illinois was there for the demonstration.
Local Ald. Will Burns (4th) held the meeting to gather community feedback about the future of Dyett, which the Chicago Board of Education voted to phaseout back in 2012 due to poor academic performance. Dyett is slated to close completely in 2015 after its last senior class graduates.
A community-driven blueprint to offer a global leadership and green technology curriculum at Dyett, along with other programs involving agricultural sciences and cultural awareness, dominated the discussion at the meeting, held at King College Prep High School. The academic plan, developed by community members and academics over several years, is backed by the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, a group spearheaded by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO).
"Whatever happens at Dyett, it's got to be a high-quality, open-enrollment high school, and so the whole point is to have a process by which we get ideas for what that should be," Burns told Progress Illinois at the meeting, attended by more than 100 people. "I know that KOCO and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett is very organized and very vocal, but there are other voices in the community, and I want to make sure that they have a way to be heard."