Of all the public schools in Chicago, Dyett High is in dire straits. The figures coming out of there have shocked many public officials, as well as the civilian public at large. Ten percent are proficient in math, one in six have adequate reading skills, and the computer lab is so outdated that many of the computers still only take floppy disks. Dyett High has people not only wandering about whether or not they should keep it open, but also over the state of public schools in Chicago.
That said, when public officials announced that they were planning to shut down Dyett High, the local community was outraged. A variety of civil disobedience has taken place resulting in arrests being made. There are also legal battles against the city as people fight to keep the school open. This is not a phenomenon limited to Chicago, either. Many communities across the country are fighting to keep schools open that are in danger of being closed.
School closures have increased by about sixty percent in the past decade, with about 2,000 schools closed. Advocates argue that this is critical to revamping the public education system. Eric Lerum, a vice president at StudentsFirst says, “”You need bold moves and radical change.”
Opponents, though, armed with some recent studies, argue that displacement does not help students. In fact, studies show that they are negatively affected in the short and long term academically by the shift. Many feel schools should be left open to set up the students as best as possible. Ex-chief of Chicago schools Jean-Claude Brizard, though, says that “There are some schools that are so far gone that you cannot save them…There’s got to be some hope left in the building for you to be able to turn a school around.”
The fight to save schools across the country is likely to continue despite all the closures.