School Closure: A Tragic Turnaround Strategy

This just bears repeating: The implication of the “turnaround” language, of course, implies that somehow closure will inspire rebirth, but too often school closure has meant not only the death of the school but also the demise of the neighborhood for which the school was the institutional anchor.


Chicago’s Dyett High School, which had been phased out by the school district beginning in 2012, will be re-opened as an open-enrollment, arts-focused high school for 550 students.  The school was slated for closure following the graduation of 13 students last June at the end of the phase-out process. A dozen protesters, led by Jitu Brown of Chicago’s Kenwood Oakland Community Association, are responsible for the re-opening of Dyett as a neighborhood high school.  Since August 17, the protesters have conducted a hunger strike to protest the school’s closure.

As the Chicago Public Schools capitulated by agreeing to re-open the school, Jitu Brown commented: “We are happy the school is opening as a neighborhood CPS-run school.  All is not lost.  But what we want is what the community demanded.”  Earlier this year, when the school district had issued a request for proposals (RFP), citizens of the neighborhood had submitted…

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