Chicago education activists who have been fighting to preserve Walter H. Dyett High School as an open-enrollment, traditional neighborhood school protested outside of Ald. Will Burns' (4th) office Tuesday morning, claiming the South Side alderman "pretends to be progressive while pushing privatization."
Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, who for more than a year have been advocating for a community-driven plan to turn the facility into a "global leadership and green technology" open-enrollment high school, are upset over the prospect of a contract operator taking control of the Bronzeville school. They are also angry because the alderman has not endorsed their global leadership and green technology proposal.
"Instead of honoring the community plan and believing in democracy, Ald. Will Burns has given Dyett over to private operators and left it open for the school to be a contract school," said Jitu Brown with the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, which is spearheaded by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO).
The "state of the arts" in the Chicago Public Schools district has improved over the past two academic years, but there remains much work ahead to ensure all students have access to quality arts instruction, according to a recent report by Ingenuity Inc., a Chicago-based arts education advocacy organization.
For the report issued last week, Ingenuity examined the progress that's been made towards the goals and recommendations in the city's three-year CPS Arts Education Plan, which was approved by the Chicago Board of Education in November of 2012 and made arts a core subject.
Over the first two academic years under the plan, "growth was seen in almost all categories of arts instruction, including minutes of weekly instruction, staffing, arts integration and professional development, and number of arts partnerships," the report reads.
"If a white, middle-class community came up with an in-depth, community-based plan for their neighborhood public school, they would get it," said Joy Clendenning, a 4th Ward resident who sits on the local school council at Kenwood Academy High. "We want the Walter H. Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology Community High School, and we want it now."
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.