Parents Feeling Ignored in School Reforms

Rebecca Vevea:

Chicago Public School officials are making big changes during their first year in office, but there’s a group of people feeling shut out once again — parents.
Despite a well-publicized commitment to involve parents in the city’s public education system, some of them are not happy with how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his school team are following through. And some say they are still not familiar with the new Office of Community and Family Engagement.
“I’ve heard of the new department, but I quite honestly have no idea what they do,” said Jonathan Goldman, a parent and Local School Council member at Drummond Montessori School, a sought-after magnet program.
The district has long been accused of excluding parents from its decision-making process. “To be fair, C.P.S. has never, under any recent administration, been a bastion of parent engagement,” Goldman said.
To address that reputation, Jean-Claude Brizard, C.P.S. chief executive, created the office last July and said it would focus solely on parents and school communities. He said the new office would concentrate the responsibilities of several former departments — the Office of Local School Council relations, the Office of External Affairs and other now-defunct departments — into one unit that would report directly to him.