Crusader staff report
Chicago’s Black leaders are urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make Chicago Public Schools interim chief Janice Jackson the permanent choice for the job.
Jackson, a Chicago State grad, replaced embattled CPS Chief Forrest Claypool, who resigned Friday after he was accused of repeatedly lying during an ethics investigation involving the top CPS attorney. The report called for his dismissal but Emanuel stood by his longtime ally until the very end.
Jackson served as CPS’s chief education officer under Claypool and his predecessor, Barbara Byrd Bennett who resigned in 2015 after being indicted in a $30 million no-bid contract scandal. Unlike her predecessors, Jackson is an educator whose clean background and extensive experience can help restore CPS and its beleaguered reputation.
Jackson holds a BA in secondary education and an MA in history from Chicago State University and an MA in leadership and administration and a PhD in education policy studies and urban school leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Prior to her current role as Chief Education Officer, Dr. Jackson led Network 9 – one of the CPS’ 13 school zones – which includes 26 schools and serves 14,000 students. Jackson began her CPS career as a Social Studies teacher at South Shore High School. After 5 years in the classroom, Jackson led the Al Raby School for Community and Environment, which became one of the district’s most successful neighborhood high schools, with a graduation rate of over 80 percent and higher than expected college enrollment. After five years as Principal of Raby HS, Jackson was chosen to lead the new George Westinghouse College Prep High School. She opened this diverse west side high school with amazing speed, and its success has been recognized nationally, due in part to a thriving world language program and partnerships like the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program, which gives promising aspiring young doctors a chance to study with the outstanding physicians and researchers of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Emanuel said he has “100 percent confidence” in Jackson, noting her “incredible record,” he said during Claypool’s resignation announcement.
Black leaders on Tuesday, Dec. 12, held a press conference at the Columbus Park Refectory on the city’s West Side, where they urged the mayor to give Jackson the job permanently.
“Dr. Jackson’s support in our communities is deep and wide”, says Rev. Cy Fields, President of the Leaders Network and Pastor of New Landmark Church. “She is a product of the system and a professional educator. We have an opportunity to have grassroots support for a system with a grassroots leader.”
Rev. Marshall Hatch, Co-Chair of the Leaders Network & Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Church of West Garfield Park, says, “We will not tolerate any additional closed schools in our community. We expect Dr. Jackson to put our children and neighborhood schools first.”