The Chicago Tribune has an article about a new program’s trouble. A liaison for teachers and parents has quit after complaints from every corner. I can’t say I blame her. More after the break.
Chicago Public Schools has parted ways with the head of its family and community engagement efforts, a casualty of the public relations battle over the district’s controversial push for school closings, school turnarounds and an extended school day.
Jamiko Rose resigned as chief family and community engagement officer on March 9, just seven months after her appointment by CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard. Rose, a former executive director of an education and social justice nonprofit, was hired to spearhead work with parents and the public during the wholesale restructuring of CPS under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Rose’s work was seen as critical to stemming public criticism over the mayor’s education reform agenda. But from the beginning, she seemed to rankle community members with poorly organized parent meetings, some that began at 8 a.m. on weekdays.
Rose was criticized both inside and outside CPS for not working closely enough with parents and the community to calm concerns. Some characterized her as aloof and unfit for the position. Others simply said her efforts were not enough to overcome the turbulent times.
Rose, who will remain at CPS until May 31, said her decision to leave was a “mutual agreement” with the district.
“I came to the district to serve the public,” Rose said. “At this point, I feel that I can best serve the public outside of the district.”
Although many parents and community members have openly supported lengthening CPS’ school day and shuttering or turning around struggling neighborhood schools, public reaction in some parts of the city has been fiercely critical.
In February, Local School Council members at 17 schools filed a lawsuit, claiming that CPS’ school closings were discriminatory and intended to silence parental voice in school decisions. That case has since been dismissed. Elsewhere, parents and community activists have staged rowdy protests at schools designated to be closed and at City Hall to make their opposition known.
Last month, dozens of parents, activists and community members flooded CPS’ school board chambers to oppose the closing or restructuring of 17 struggling public schools. The emotionally charged meeting lasted 31/2 hours, but at the end school board members unanimously approved all school actions.
“The department (of community engagement) has always just been window dressing for CPS, pretending to listen to parents and the community,” said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education. “The bottom line is, they’re not interested in including the public in their decisions at all.”
District spokeswoman Becky Carroll declined to talk about Rose’s resignation, but she said community and family engagement is a crucial component of CPS’ mission.
“Historically, CPS has not done as good a job as it should have engaging families,” Carroll said. “And we are working to fundamentally change that with a new approach … to ensure that we have the most responsive and proactive effort in place to fully engage and empower parents.”