Jamiko Rose resigns as 'Chief Officer of Family and Community Engagement' at CPS

CPS sources have confirmed that Jamiko Rose, who was hired in August 2011 for the newly created position of "Chief Officer for Family and Community Engagement" at Chicago Public Schools, will resign effective May 31, 2012. The most complete news report on Rose's resignation was published in the Chicago Tribune on March 17, 2012 (see below).

Jamiko Rose (above, center) tried unsuccessfully to explain the merits of the CPS 7.5 hour school days to parents from Mount Greenwood schools during the Board of Education's February 22, 2012 meeting. By February 2012, Rose had spent more than six months traversing the city trying to defend policies which CPS was implementing that ignored virtually every parents and community that expressed legitimate concerns. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Chicago Board of Education approved the creation of Rose’s position and the hiring of Rose at its August 24, 2011 meeting. At the time, the Board established Rose's annual salary at $152,000 per year. But within eight months, that had increased by $10,000 per year. According to the CPS Position File of February 2012 obtained by Substance under the Freedom of Information Act, Rose is budgeted to be paid $162,000.

From the beginning, questions arose as to why CPS needed an "Office of Family and Community Engagement". The unit, which eventually had 14 people working in it, four (including Rose) paid in excess of $100,000 per year, was supposedly developing parent and community support for CPS programs. According to the CPS position file for February 2012, that department had a total budget of $1.4 million for salaries. Although the department itself was new (and Rose's position was unprecedented), several people in the department had been with CPS for years. These included Bill Gerstein, Lafayette Ford, and Reynaldo Kyles. CPS never explained how some of its veteran executive staff members wound up serving under a newly hired person without CPS experience.

One possible reason for Rose's departure can be seen in the comment published in the Tribune article reporting it. According to CPS spokesperson Becky Carroll, Rose was supposed to help "empower" parents. "District spokeswoman Becky Carroll declined to talk about Rose's resignation," the Tribune reported, "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."

But since September 2011, when CPS first unveiled its push for what is now being called the "Longest School Day," parents were never consulted before each successive "done deal" was made policy. In addition to the 7.5 hours school day, CPS confirmed the new criteria for school closings and turnarounds without incorporating any parent or community input, pushed through the turnarounds and closings despite widespread and vocal opposition across the city (including from the majority of political officials who spoke out on the issues), and most recently introduced a new school calendar, which adds ten days to the school year and eliminates two traditional holidays (Columbus Day in October and Pulaski Day in March) without even bothering to solicit input from parents, students, teachers, elected officials or any other community leaders.

The Tribune's report is below here:

Jamiko Rose (above, third from right) stood with Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard (above, gesturing) during the Board of Education's February 22, 2012 meeting, as Brizard explained how and why his administration was recommending that the Board subject ten schools to "turnaround" and close seven others. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and Joel Hood, Chicago Tribune reporters

March 16, 2012

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.

One of the first major encounters between Jamiko Rose and the community came during the supposed hearings on the guidelines for school closings and turnarounds that would result in the dramatic events of January and February 2012. At two hearings in November 2011, CPS officials presented the guidelines for closings and turnarounds, which CPS approved without modification despite huge community opposition and criticism from elected officials who charged that the guidelines violate SB 630, the school facilities law passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2011. Above, Rose is seen trying to explain the guidelines during the November 16, 2011 hearing at Simeon High School. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.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."


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