Troubled high school in America's 3rd-largest school system sparks a two-week hunger strike

For nearly two weeks, about a dozen Chicago residents have been on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of a failing public high school in America’s third-largest school district.

Walter H. Dyett High School — in the Bronzeville neighbourhood of Chicago’s South Side — is closed for the upcoming academic year, following a years-long trend of declining enrollment. In June, a final class of 13 students graduated from Dyett, according to NPR.

“They’re vowing to continue consuming only water and light liquids, like vegetable broth, until they see some resolution to their fight for an open-enrollment school in their neighbourhood,” Laura Moser reports in Slate.

Several strikers have already been hospitalized, according to Moser.

“We’re demanding a community-driven school that will anchor our community for generations to come. Parents are not wrong in asking for equal educational opportunities for our children,” one striker told NPR.

The third-largest school system in the country, Chicago has been facing an education funding crisis the past several years. The most recent budget, passed earlier this summer, would cut more than 1,000 jobs and $US200 million from the system.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said earlier this week that the chairman of the city’s school board had met with the protesters about the future of Dyett. However, he downplayed the school’s individual impact on the area.

“Within a three mile radius there’s 10 high schools. Within about a mile of the school is King College Prep,” Emanuel said at a press conference, according to a video from the Chicago Sun-Times. “So there’s a lot of high schools in that area, and how do you talk about another one when even some of the high schools that are within the three mile radius are not at capacity yet?”

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