Brizard will head Chicago schools

Chicago’s new schools CEO will be Jean-Claude Brizard, an education reformer who fought with the teachers’ union over performance pay as superintendent in Rochester, New York. A few months ago, 95 percent of teachers voted “no confidence” in his leadership.

Brizard “is not afraid of tough choices, and that is what Chicago’s students need today,” said (Mayor-elect Rahm) Emanuel, who has pledged longer school days and more accountability from teachers.

A Haitian immigrant, Brizard started as a physics teacher.

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.

Emanuel also announced  seven new Board of Education members and a new executive team for the district, which Brizard helped select.


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  1. There’s a typo in your article. You can’t raise a graduation rate from 51% to 39%. I wonder though, how you can get 95% of a group to hate you so much. There must be a better way to improve schools.

  2. David,

    Probably b/c he’s an unqualified hack who lacks the sense to realize he’s in over his head.

  3. Julie in Rochester says:

    Brizard raised the graduation rate by *drastically* lowering the requirements for graduation during his first year here. Presto change-o you have more “successful” students. They fail to mention that the rate dropped again last year despite the lowered expectations. This is very sad for our kids.

    He ‘decreased suspensions’ by telling principals there could be no more suspensions and instead separating those kids into disciplinary rooms with teachers assigned as monitors.

    There is a projected $80 million budget deficit.

    Chicago’s loss, Rochester’s gain.

  4. Raising the graduation rate is academically dishonest unless it is accompanied by real HS-grad knowledge and skills, increasing the enrollment in AP classes is academically dishonest unless the kids are prepared for and capable of AP-level work and decreasing the suspension rate is inappropriate and detrimental to a suitable school climate unless it reflects improvement in student behavior. I am skeptical that these changes reflect anything other than a lowering of standards.

  5. But he’s a graduate of the prestigious Broad Superintendent’s Academy, featuring up to 6 weekends of training. He’s got to be better than someone with actual teaching experience.

  6. CarolineSF says:

    Here’s an informative take and commentary on the Broad Academy from Parents Across America:

    (Disclosure that I’m a founding member of Parents Across America.)