Controversy and confusion have surrounded Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St., for some time about its future role in the Hyde Park-Kenwood community.
A request for proposal (RFP) process was established last year, and CPS has remained quiet, for the most part, on the decision process. Members of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) drafted a proposed academic policy with the help of academic advisors and presented it to Chicago Public Schools (CPS), but Ald. Will Burns (4th) rejected the proposal.
Jitu Brown, national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, said that the alderman told them, “I will not and cannot support your proposal.”
Brown, like many community members, fear that the school will be placed in the wrong hands of the politically connected.
A community hearing concerning the issue was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 10, but a time and location was not released to the public. On Friday evening, just three days before the scheduled date, CPS announced that the public hearing would instead be extended to Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.
“We continue to review the applications by the 2014 RFP, but with the budget and financial crisis dominating the focus of the new CPS administration, more time is necessary to make an informed recommendation to the Board of Education,” said Forrest Claypool, CEO of CPS.
Jaribu Lee, education organizer for KOCO, has been troubled with the administration, particularly with the community’s alderman.
“Ald. Will Burns has had access to the best education possible, and to deprive our children of that when he is the Education Chair of City Council is unacceptable,” she said.
On Wednesday, Aug. 5, members of KOCO protested in downtown Hyde Park at the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue to gain community support and promote knowledge about the impending issue.
“It’s a fight the community has fought for a long time,” said Joy Clendenning, a Kenwood parent. “We are here to stand in solidarity for the school and keep education focus in the community.
Protestors held a “SAVE DYETT” banner towards the street, and passed out flyers with information on the coalition’s proposal. Passersby were positive in their response to the peaceful protest, beeping their car horns in support or stopping to chat with KOCO members about the issue.
Jayme Robinson, an intern for KOCO, said that she doesn’t want the issue to be hidden from the public.
“I went to CPS and I have seen first-hand the lack of resources in the schools, specifically for African American students,” she said. “If they are asking for our votes, then they should listen to what we have to say.”
Brown said that they have over 2,000 signatures for a petition and have had 500 people writing letters to CPS and the alderman.
“Good schools are not a mystery,” he said. “Our education system is fractured. This just shows how much work we still have to do.”
Neither CPS nor Ald. Will Burns returned a call for comment about the RFP for Dyett High School.
[Via: Hyde Park Herald]