In 1998 Mayor Daley announced that 3 New High Schools would be built
by the year 2000. One High School was promised to Little Village!
Two of the High Schools have been built and opened- Walter Payton and Northside Prep. But no work has been done in Little Village.
In1998 the board of education purchased the land at 31st and Kostner for the creation of this 3rd High School.
In 1999 $30 Million in State Funds were granted for the construction of the High School on 31st and Kostner. The funds disappeared - Chicago style.
So on Mother's Day, Sunday May 13th 2001, we had a press conference in front of the empty lot where the high school was to be built. And we announced our hunger strike!
These are what we demanded:
1) a written and public commitment from Paul Vallas, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, and Mayor Daley to begin construction of the High School by the Summer of 2001.
2) community participation at all levels of planning, design and curriculum development and implementation of the High School.
On this day of the HUNGER STRIKE we are asking YOU to help strengthen our community. Campamento Cesar Chavez has grown tremendously in size and support throughout these 2 weeks. Community wide support has been shown by bringing us water and canopies to cover our tents from these rainy cold windy nights.
We invite you to become part of a collective that is not only fighting for some bricks that will make up the building of the high school. We are also inviting you to become part of the process of creating a new sense of community where human dignity, respect, justice, democracy and equality are created.
The building of a community run high school in the CPS system will only help us to educate and make sure our youth gets an education that does not hide our rich Latino History here and in Latin America.
On Friday May 18, 2001 Paul Vallas came to camp Cesar Chavez to meet with us after many tricks and insults from his office. After a heated and intense meeting in the conference tent, we had the
following oral agreement:
1) The high school site will in fact be located at 31st and Kostner Avenue.
2) That an extraordinary process of community participation for the planning and design of the school and its campus begin immediately. That the Strikers prepare and implement this plan for a community process that is inclusive and democratic and includes representation from the feeder schools.
3) That site preparation will begin within two weeks in order to demonstrate that a good faith effort is being made towards the construction of the new high school.
WE DID NOT come to an agreement on the FUNDING. Paul Vallas keeps on insisting that we should ask the state legislature for the money when the State had already allocated $30 million to build the HIgh School in Little Village.
Our community has not only grown in numbers but also in experience and we no longer will accept empty promises. Daley, Vallas and others must put everything in writing. They have not honored their word.
The mothers, youth and fathers on strike are physically tired but our spirits are rejuvenated every time ONE person comes to camp and offers their support by:
- bringing water, juice, and other liquids that do not contain caffeine
- joining in marches across Little Village
- passing flyers and informing people on 26th street
- talking to parents after they drop their kids off school
- supporting the hunger strike fund
- having their community,political, religious, art, social, cultural organization to support the strike by getting people to attend our events every night at the camp. We have had Aztec Dancers, Sones de Mexico, poets, Rockeros and tonight Mariachis feed our spirits.
- Attending public demonstrations lead by STRIKERS
On May 19, 2001
5 strikers and 21 supporters attended Lane Techs where Daley had his
Kids First Conference on Education. We made our presence felt at
this meeting but got kicked out by Daley's security.
On May 20, 2001
We spoke at churches in Little Village and Pilsen, had our Mass at 4:00
and then marched all over Little Village.
On May 21, 2001
Community residents and 8 Strikers delivered a letter to
Daley in his 5th floor office. When we got to the office the
Governor of California was giving a press conference(!)
We met Daley's officers and they made a line before us.
Some parents had brought their children so they were in front.
We asked to speak to Daley to present him with letter asking him to
intervene and build the high school.
Police officers just kept on telling us to back up. People
held the signs up, and began chanting," We are sick and tired of
waiting, we are sick and tired of waiting." The Governor did not
finish his press conference and a skirmish with Daley's police
began. The cameras turned and the community rushed to the ropes that
were for the cameras. Finally, Daley sent a representative to
receive the letter.
While we waited for the letter to be stamped
"received", we had a press conference about the need to stop the lies
and clarify where the funding went and assurances that any funding
from Springfield goes toward building our over due school.
When we began the strike we only imagined what it would be like.
Now days into the strike, things are much more clear. The community is beginning to strengthen our sense of collective good and respect.
We invite anyone who dares to put their words and dreams into action.
HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE - And we will be documenting our march to a new school here!