Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicago's CEO short list

Brizard sounds like perfect candidate for Rahm

According to this morning's Trib, Rahm Emanuel's short list of outsiders for new school's CEO includes current Rochester supt. Jean-Claude Brizard. Even though Brizard, the latest through Rochester's revolving door of school bosses, just recently signed a three-year deal, he's ONLY making $235,000 in Rochester and could be using the Chicago offer to leverage more back home. He would certainly do better money-wise in Chi-town where a broken school budget never stopped those at the top from enriching themselves or moving on to bigger and better things. He has a background in education which Emanuel thinks might placate those in the union and some community groups who have made this an issue. Plus he's married to a charter school entrepreneur who could do well in Chicago's booming charter school market.

In Rochester, Brizard is embraced by local biz reformers and despised by many teachers and parents. In February, he received a vote of "no confidence" from an overwhelming majority of  Rochester teachers. He was hired by Mayor Duffy to push the corporate reform agenda in Rochester, including school closings, war with the unions, privatization, and "merit pay."

Last week, Brizard was accused by parent groups and by  RTA president, Adam Urbanski, of grossly overstating the district's budget deficit in order to justify the firing of 800 city teachers. 
"I've seen a lot in my many years as a spokesman for the teachers in Rochester," said Urbanski. "I have never seen anything like this. Something is wrong with this picture."
Local school board member Van White says of Brizard, "I'm not sure he's really in touch with teachers, principals, and the non-teaching employees or their feelings about their jobs." 

Ah, the perfect candidate!

Brizard spent 20 years working his way up through the NYC bureaucracy and cut his teeth on business reform under Joel Klein and the Broad Foundation's superintendent training camp.

Others on the short list reportedly include others cut from the same cloth as Brizard -- Baltimore's Andres Alonso, and Jerry Weast from suburban Montgomery County, Md. You see where Emanuel is going with this, right?


  1. Why do you put Jerry Weast on that list? He was very well respected in Montgomery County, I thought.

  2. Chris,
    You're probably right about Weast. But I can't see any other rationale for Emanuel to pick a retired supt. from a wealthy, suburban district in Maryland. I also can't understand why Weast would take the job.

  3. Chris,
    It was the Tribune that listed Weast.

  4. I'm a parent in Rochester. Just returned from budget hearing with huge crowds. Brizard absent. Crowd threatened to become disorderly demanding to know where he was. Answer from School Board Prez: Aspen Institute event in DC. We do not wish him on anyone, but he absolutely must go!

  5. Mr. Klonsky:

    I see that I am quoted in your article. Im not certian where this quote comes from. But you and your readers should know that I beleive that Jean Claude has been a very good Superintendent. In fact, I am hopeful that he does not leave our District.

    In support of this belief, I intend to join other members of the majority of the Board at a press conference tommorrow telling the community that we hope the rumors are not true and that he finishes the reform work that he has only just begun.

    In fact, I go one step further arguing that it would be irresponsible for him to leave right now during the midst of Jean Claude's aggressive reform agenda. The proverbial apple cart has been overturned and we have yet to get all the apples back in the cart. Quite frankly although we appreciate the opportunity that lies in your great City, our children and parents are not effected by such things. I say all this to let you know your quote does not accurately reflect my feelings on Jean Claude's service to this City.

    Van Henri White
    Commissioner of Schools.

  6. Mr. White,

    The quote comes from a column by Tim Louis Macaluso in Rochester's City Paper, Aug. 18, 2010. You are quoted extensively in the column and there's even a picture of you delivering not just this quote, but a whole lot more. For example, about Brizard's school suspension program:

    "He got lots of criticism for that," board member Van White says. "The guy moves very quickly, sometimes too quickly. And he doesn't always bring his people along with him. He's like that gifted quarterback that sometimes forgets that it takes a team."

    Then there's, "Brizard could improve his relationships with those he manages, White says."

    "When he wanted to close Franklin's schools, he again started with his vision," White says. "But frankly, in my mind, what he planned to do was a bit sketchy at first."

    I guess what I'm saying, Mr. White, is if Mr. Macaluso made up all this stuff or misquoted you, your beef is with him, not me.

    Where you and I both agree is that Mr. Brizard should stay in Rochester and stop testing the Lake Michigan waters here in Chicago.

    I do understand your personal concern. Rumors of Brizard's impending departure from Rochester may be used (as I mention above) to leverage more money from your school board. That sure could put you in one heck of a bind.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.