Unfortunately, due to my yoga teaching schedule I didn't have time to make it downtown and back north in time for class so I called in via Skype. There was a problem with the video and I was left to listen to audio only. I feel I missed out on some on the visuals and the intimacy of the conversation. Despite that, I took away a positive impression of Mr. Brizard. He came across friendly, knowledgeable, calm and full of solutions for many of the problems facing our school system.
He answered our questions about high school problems from lack of quality to the 38% city dropout rate and spoke about alternative solutions such as the CASTLE technique to enforce positive behaviors and multiple pathways to education. He admitted this requires massive work, but feels he can greatly reduce crime and the dropout rate.
Brizard insisted a longer school day will happen and there is money to pay for it. When I brought up my problem on large class sizes, specifically in kindergarten classes, Brizard explained it is an issue of supply and demand and 32 kid class sizes are not recommended, but they don't want to turn any students away. CPS needs to create a better choice of quality, under-utilized schools.
He spoke about streamlining the overwhelming application process and agreed he would not want to trust his children's life to a lottery. He said our system has pockets of excellence that should set an example of what quality looks like. Finally, the CEO admitted there are way too many days off in the school calendar.
I hung up from the conversation both overwhelmed by the hard work needed to be done and optimistic at the ideas, leadership and commitment for improvement of our Chicago Public Schools.
Tomorrow CEO Brizard is holding a teleforum with parents. This will give all of you the chance to talk with the head of CPS like I did last week. The teleforum is at 6:10 pm on November 17th. To join call 1-877-229-8493 toll-free from any phone and enter access code 18538 when prompted. This is your chance to hear what CPS is doing to drive the academic achievement of your children and to hear your feedback.