No Confidence Vote In Rochester Lands Jean-Claude Brizard In Chicago

No Confidence Vote In Rochester Lands Jean-Claude Brizard In Chicago

Rahm Emanuel said that Jean-Claude Brizard was an “experienced educator and proven manager,” while Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, pointed out that the Rochester Teachers Association had an entirely different opinion of the man named to head the Chicago Public School System. Apparently Rochester Teachers gave Brizard a 95% vote of no-confidence just two months ago. Chicago’s Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) also pointed to data that the four-year graduation rate in Rochester dropped at point in his tenure. PURE’s Julie Woestehoff asked “So why are we bring him here?”

I guess that is a good question. Then again, we have to ask why Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel not only hired a guy that just signed a three year contract in February to head the 32,000 student Rochester City School District, but why he named Penny Pritzker to the board. Pritzker may be an education advocate, but I suspect that appointment had more to do with family campaign contributions. Others named to the school board are Jesse Ruiz, the current chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, who will serve as vice president and former Northwestern University President Henry Bienen.

As for Brizard, many in Rochester can’t wait to see him leave, although that characterization should worry Chicago residents as they send their kids to a school system that has long been viewed as mismanaged and dysfunctional. Howard Eagle, a member of Rochester’s Community Education Taskforce, has called Brizard’s management style as “dictatorial and very top down.” He also said that ” We are glad to see him go” but that “We wouldn’t wish him on anyone.”


The Chicago Sun-Times also reported:

Adam Urbanski, head of the Rochester Teachers Association said he questions the veracity of an $80 million Rochester public school deficit Brizard announced about a month ago, along with plans to lay off 770 teachers — about 20 percent of the workforce.

And, Urbanski said, Brizard tried to jam through school closings without community hearings — something school board members later ordered him to provide. Brizard later became the subject of the union’s first no-confidence vote in at least 30 years.

“We had a difficult three years because Jean Claude Brizard’s definition of shared decision making was to make a decision and then share it with others,” Urbanski said.

Well, if all these comments about Jean-Claude Brizard are correct, then it would appear that Rahm Emanuel has done Chicago a great disservice and added more fuel to the fire in Karen Lewis’ argument that his choices are “focused on failed quick fix public relations and privatizing schools.” Then too, isn’t that the same thing that Arne Duncan tried to do as well? Personally, I am still amazed that Duncan was tapped for the U.S. Secretary of Education where he continues to politicize education instead of fixing the problems.

The irony, of course, is that President Obama has said he was committed to reforming education while appointing someone who makes a better basketball opponent than an advocate for getting back to the basic foundations of education.

If Arne Duncan was a picture of success as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, then I don’t like the direction that we are going in when it comes to education.

Sadly, education has become a convenient target of politicians, right and left. However, what is being missed is that the rest of the world is quickly passing us by while our children are given less resources to succeed in a global economy. Parents and teachers alike should be concerned that there has been a serious disconnect, not only in Washington, but in our own state. Quite frankly, politics needs to be taken out of education.

And I don’t think hiring Brizard will accomplish that.

Rahm Emanuel will see to that.


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  • It is very hard what to make of this.

    Having lived outside Rochester (but heck, we both live outside Chicago), I find it hard to see how someone who was three years there has enough experience and know how to run a system 10 times as big. I don't see how Emanuel's school board appointments are representative of anything other than the existing elites.

    On the other hand, it appears that Adam Urbanski has been the perpetual head of the RTU and all this talk about the teachers' union, including Karen Lewis, being p.o.ed, at least indicates that Emanuel does not want the inmates to run the asylum, which, as indicated, inter alia, by Byrne's post today, they do run the legislature, when they find it necessary to do so.

    Getting back to Rochester, if they were so dissatisfied with Brizard's performance, why did that school board just renew his contract and they are crying that he won't fulfill it?

    I guess the test will be whether Emanuel accomplishes anything, after Daley had complete charge of the schools of 16 years, and whether he immediately sends out Jesse Jackson Sr. to cry that the suburbs have to bail CPS out.

  • In reply to jack:

    I agree Jack - hard to figure. Especially the renewal of the contract in Rochester. Either way though, it seems everything is political and very little ever has to do with improving the system; whether education or other government agencies.

  • In reply to maciric:

    On your last point, I was going to link back to a discussion I had on the CTA Tattler, but the point was proved when it was announced that Rahm appointed Forrest Claypool as CTA President, irrespective of whether he has any transit management experience.

    So, I guess you were prescient.

    Of course, I don't think Emanuel is going to appoint Stroger to anything, but someone (maybe Quinn) might.

  • In reply to jack:

    LOL Doesn't take much of a sage to figure out politicians in Illinois. Didn't Preckwinkle fire someone and hire them back yesterday as a secretary for a net savings of $7k per year? And to think people buy this reform crap from the lifelong political scum circulating through Illinois' Democratic Machine.

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