UPDATE: As of today, this is NOT happening any more. The fight for Dyett has entered another phase. The school is going to open; the fight ahead is for the form it will take. In the meantime, I wish good health to each of the courageous hunger strikers. 34 days is a hell of a lot longer than I could have lasted.
You know, I don't really have anything new to add to a discussion of the Dyett High School hunger strike, because after thirty four days, very little has changed.
It has been almost two weeks since CPS tried to shut the strikers up by announcing a bogus "compromise" in which the city got everything that it wanted and the activitists got to sit outside the press conference, carefully locked away from any possible voice in the future of Dyett High. That was not a compromise or a capitulation-- it was officials' attempt to put out a brushfire by depriving it of oxygen.
It has been a month. A month without solid food. A month of getting the word out, of standing up to the city as it tries to deprive one more not-white not-wealthy neighborhood of the stabilizing influence of a democratically, locally controlled school.
Dyett is the worst of the reformster movement in a microcosm-- residents will be stripped of their local school, given no voice in what will replace it, because their Betters have decided what they need, what they deserve. And because small politicos want to make sure that local voices are shut out, that power is not allowed into the hands of ordinary citizens.
Dyett is all of us, sooner or later (and in some places, already)-- privatizers and profiteers shutting down democracy so that they can get their hands on those sweet sweet piles of tax money and keep their hands on the wheels of power.
I say it every time-- people who want to concern troll and tone police need to notice that the community members of Bronzeville have done every by the book. They developed their own plan, in conjunction with local institutions and educational experts. They worked the system. They filed the forms. They attended the meetings and waited patiently. And when they finally decided to take action, even then, they threatened no damage to anything but their own bodies. There is not a single action that anyone can point to and say, "Well, of course nobody will listen to them if they act like that. They should have done X instead."
And still the system has made no attempt to hear them, to work with them, to acknowledge that they should have a say in the future of their own community.
Reformsters who repeatedly argue that poor families should have a voice in their children's education should be outraged. Instead, they are silent.
Again, I have nothing to say about the situation in Dyett that I have not said before-- except, how the hell, in this country, can this still be happening? How can the leaders of Chicago not head over to Bronzeville and meet with these folks? How can leaders not take the measure of the commitment behind this hunger strike and not say, "Well, we should at least hear them out."
That's the bare minimum needed to convince anyone that Chicago's leaders are human beings able to recognize the humanity of the hunger strikers.
What they should be doing is simple-- they should give the citizens of Bronzeville back the control of their own community school. The Dyett plan-- the only fully developed and solid plan for the school that exists-- should be implemented.
I have nothing new to say, but I have to say something, because this shit is still going on. Follow the progress and news here. Pass the word. The hope among Chicago's political class is that the Dyett strikers will be forgotten, that people will stop talking about them, that the famously short American attention span will lapse, that the pressure will stop. Don't let that happen.
People should not have to starve themselves just to have a voice in their own community schools. People should not have to starve themselves just to hold onto their basic democratic rights. This is wrong, and it is unfathomable that it has now gone on for thirty-four days.