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NEA President Lily Eskelsen García stands in solidarity with #FightForDyett

Chicago parents, activists take their hunger strike to save Dyett High School to the nation’s capital

WASHINGTON - September 02, 2015 -

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García today joined Chicago parents, community activists, national civil rights groups and education leaders fighting to save South Chicago’s Dyett High School. A dozen parents and community leaders, known as the “Dyett 12,” are now on the 17th day of a hunger strike to protest the closure of the high school, which is located in a predominately Black neighborhood.

The activists held a press conference in Washington to deliver a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, urging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to reopen Dyett High School as a community school. The activists hope that by reaching out to Duncan—the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools—they can give their community a fighting chance to have a high-quality public high school in the neighborhood for their children.

Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“Today, I humbly joined the growing chorus of voices calling on elected and appointed leaders in Chicago, and here in Washington, to do the right thing and reopen Dyett High School as a high-quality neighborhood public school.

“All students, regardless of their ZIP code, deserve the support, tools and time to learn. The time is now to put politics aside and, instead, focus on creating resourced public schools that are desirable places to learn and that help prepare every student for a great and bright future. Shutting neighborhood schools and privatizing them robs—actually, hijacks—students’ chances for success. Despite an unbending commitment to the students at Dyett High School by parents and the Chicago community, elected and appointed leaders in the Windy City have chosen to ignore detailed plans and pleas—and now a 17th day-old hunger strike—to reopen the high school as a high-quality neighborhood public school.

“The Dyett community, time and again, has demonstrated a commitment to the students at the high school. They have worked tirelessly to enrich the students’ education and improve the school. They fought for a school library and building improvements, including finding external funders to renovate the athletic facilities. Now is the time for politicians to do the same and fight to reopen Dyett High School. The students deserve it. The parents deserve it. The hunger strikers deserve it.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,