15 community members in Bronzeville, Chicago are on the 31st day of their hunger strike in defence of their school, Dyett High School. But what is at stake is much more than the future of one school, important though that is. The actions of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in first running down, then shutting the school are typical of the way in which school 'reformers' globally are ignoring local communities and bulldozing through the running down of public education. As an excellent on Dyett put it: 

The (closure) decision is based on the premise that children, teachers, and schools are indistinguishable widgets, to be distributed as efficiently as possible across the landscape. But the fact is that schools are ecosystems, each with its own history, culture, and intricately woven set of social relationships. Schools are community anchors. They are not interchangeable, nor are they disposable. Schools are home.

This quotation about a school in low income Chicago had equal resonance in rural Wales where I live and where schools are being shut down in the name of 'austerity' and in the process breaking the hearts of remote communities.

However, since the hunger strike and the announcement by CPS that the school will after all stay open, the battle in Bronzeville has taken on an even more interesting and significant aspect. Because despite the decision to keep the school open, the hunger strikers are continuing and the community is continuing to rally to their support. What is now being fought for is the principle that schools are potentially democratic spaces and that such democracy must be defended. The community in Bronzeville, after extensive work, had come up with its own proposal for the kind of school it wanted at Dyett - one rooted in the local community and emphasising green technology and global leadership. This proposal CPS did not even have the courtesy to discuss. Instead they are imposing their own model for a school.

In many ways this determined struggle reflects that by the teachers in Oaxaca in Mexico, who are fighting to defend their world leading model of bi-lingual and indigenous education against the stultifying standardised US style 'reforms' being imposed on them at the point of a gun. In both cases those fighting are putting their bodies on the line to fight for democratic education. The neoliberal 'reformers' who want to  destroy public education understand that this is a global project. There has never been a more important time for us to realise that resistance and the fight for alternatives must be global too.

Victory to the Dyett hunger strikers!

Victory to the teachers!

Victory to communities everywhere - from to to - fighting to defend their schools!