New CPS CEO
Rahm has chosen a new leader of CEO who may make some noticeable changes in the near future, notably based on his likely clashes with the teachers’ union and his supposed support of charter schools.
Some excerpts from the Tribune:
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel pushed ahead with his pledge to reshape Chicago Public Schools on Monday, introducing an executive team led by a reformer from Rochester, N.Y., who has been unafraid to mix it up with teachers unions and parents.
Jean-Claude Brizard’s appointment as the new CEO of CPS sets up a potentially explosive showdown with the Chicago Teachers Union, which openly opposes many of the measures Brizard has endorsed, such as expanding charter schools and linking teacher pay with performance. In February, the Rochester Teachers Association gave Brizard a vote of no-confidence.
Brizard “is not afraid of tough choices, and that is what Chicago’s students need today,” said Emanuel, who has pledged longer school days and more accountability from teachers.
But the Chicago Teachers Union, whose contract expires next year, is poised for battle. “We get it. I’m going to buy some boxing gloves now,” said union President Karen Lewis. “But did I think Rahm Emanuel was going to put some reasonable people in place? Of course not.”
During his three years as superintendent in Rochester, Brizard, 47, “has made politically difficult decisions in order to put the students of Rochester first,” Emanuel said.
A former high school physics teacher, Brizard worked for New York City‘s Department of Education for more than 20 years before taking a job as regional superintendent and then superintendent of schools in Rochester.
With both classroom and administrative experience, Brizard is seen as a departure from the business-minded approach of former CPS chief Ron Huberman and more of a reformer in the mold of former CPS boss Arne Duncan, now the U.S. secretary of education.
In his resignation letter to Rochester’s school board, Brizard touted what he said were his achievements while atop the 32,000-student district: Raising the graduation rate to 51 percent from 39 percent in three years; more than doubling the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes; streamlining the district’s curriculum; decreasing suspensions by two-thirds since 2006; carving $51 million out of the budget through more efficient business practices; and launching a 10-year, $1.2 billion school modernization initiative. But Rochester, like Chicago, also is facing tough decisions amid mounting debt. The school district budget Brizard laid out this month included about $80 million in cuts, 1,000 layoffs and the loss of many popular school programs.
Brizard’s short tenure in Rochester also was marked by frequent battles with the local teachers union over policies such as removing teachers from classrooms over allegations of insubordination, and by insisting that teacher pay be tied to test scores and supervisor evaluations, said Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association. “I am disappointed that his tenure here was so turbulent,” Urbanski said. “I would have preferred a much more collaborative relationship. He essentially seemed to communicate that the main problem to be fixed is bad teachers.” Urbanski said he hopes Brizard has learned from his quarrels in Rochester. “I was hoping he has at least learned that you can’t (make district changes) over the opposition of teachers, you can only do it with them,” Urbanski said. “That we’re all in the same boat.”
Emanuel said Brizard already has helped shape the mayor-elect’s appointments of the district’s new top administrators and seven new members of the Board of Education. The team includes new Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso, who comes to Chicago after overseeing the development of charter schools and innovation at the Denver Public Schools, and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley, who helped lead that city’s turnaround school initiative as part of the Academy for Urban School Leadership.
Locally, education officials said Emanuel sent a direct message. “Chicago is being put on notice,” said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University‘s Center for Urban Education. “This is a team that is coming in knowing what to do and how to do it. This is not a team that needs several months trying to figure things out. They’ll be ready to roll.”
Jon Schnur, co-founder of the New York-based school reform group New Leaders for New Schools, called Emanuel’s education team “world-class” and said Brizard’s appeal was easy to figure out. “He’s one of the best urban school superintendents in the country. No questions,” Schnur said.
Brizard, the father of two children, immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, where, Emanuel said, his parents fled to “escape political persecution.” Brizard is the son of a teacher and principal, a fact that drove his decision to go into the profession, Emanuel said.
Ok, I have to say that I love this quote from the head of the Chicago teachers’ union: “I expect this to be extraordinarily difficult,” Lewis said. “I’m looking not just at Brizard but at this whole new Board (of Education), and to me, it’s a nightmare on so many different levels. This is going to be a hot, buttery mess.”
A HOT BUTTERY MESS? Can’t wait to see how that unfolds…. I have no idea what that mean, but I have a feeling it’s going to be true. This guy ithe nice smile and friendly-looking face sounds like a real shaker-upper, who will have the support of the Mayor to make things happen. Interesting times.
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