Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brizard the 'great unifier', runs for cover

I've been working in and around schools for many years. In all that time I've rarely seen 90 percent agreement among teachers on anything. The one man who seems to unite every district teacher (against him) wherever he goes, is J.C. Brizard. His charm and education background seems to get him through his first year. But once teachers and the public see past the smiling face and figure out what he's there for, it's just a matter of time before the consensus builds.

Brizard arrived as superintendent in Rochester in January 2008 and was received warmly by the community and even by union president Adam Urbanski. But it didn't take long for Urbansky to realize, “Brizard’s definition of shared decision-making was to make a decision and then share it with others.’’ By 2010, with graduation rates falling and Brizard pushing school closings and "merit" pay, 94.5 percent of the city's teachers gave their superintendent a  vote of No Confidence Brizard went to Chicago leaving in his wake, a largely broken school district with dismal test scores, shaky finances and a fractured relationship with teachers..." (Chicago Tribune)

After serving just one year as the mayor's hand-picked schools CEO, Brizard seems to have done it again. The 90-percent strike authorization vote by CPS teachers is but one reflection of the unanimity Brizard and Rahm are forging within Chicago's school community.
Brizard's latest fiasco involves his cancellation of a supposed "informational meeting" about the contract negotiations. The Sun-Times' Roz Rossi reports:
Thousands of Chicago parents who answered the phone, only to hear the voice of city Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard personally invite them to an “informational’’ meeting about teacher contract talks will have to wait at least a month to get their information
Faced with growing opposition to their handling of the negotiations and an impending teachers strike, Rahm and Brizard are running for cover. Brizard claims that the meeting is being cancelled due to lack of information coming from a "fact-finder." The more likely explanation is that he was told to cancel the meeting because of the angry response Brizard is likely to get from angry parents with lots of media present. I mean, he didn't just put the meeting off a week or two to get more facts -- he put it off until AUGUST!

This means, that between now and August, the CTU's voice will be the only credible one heard. Anything coming from the board should be challenged by any reporter worth their salt -- "I thought you said you won't have any reliable information from the fact-finder until August..."

Now the question is, whose gambit is this? Exactly who told Brizard to duck and cover on this one? Was it Rahm himself? Or was it Axelrod Strategies?

There's little doubt in my mind that if a vote of No Confidence were to be taken today, not only among teachers but across the whole city, it would pass overwhelmingly and Brizard would once again emerge as the great unifier.


  1. You certainly have a lot more typos than one would expect for someone "working in and around schools for many years."

  2. Not to mention more degrees than a thermometer. But stick with me Anon. Usually by about this time in the afternoon, I've found most of them.

  3. Yes, Mike. I too have been around CPS long enough to know that everything that comes out of the "Death Star" is disorganized, redundant, and misleading. Nothing is EVER followed through, nor clear, nor concise, EVER. Just like those public announcements about the uniformed school times announced by our dear CEO. From other blogs and posts it seems that the majority of schools applied for waivers and they all got their own start times. That didn't even work for Brizard (he apparently is blind to the gang problems, safety in the neighboorhoods, or needs of the community): just more paperwork for principals and time wasted to get back to the existing schedules they were all at. CPS is like a dog chasing its own tail, reinventing the same old crappy wheel, over and over again.

  4. Actually, You forgot about the parent trigger laws now set to burn their way thru the country. Rahm will keep Brizard, accept an elected school board, and try to implement parent trigger laws here to push the charters on the city by preventing an elected board from being able to veto any parent trigger actions. That's what the parent trigger laws are designed to do. Parents have yet to realize that their choices of what to do after they nuke a school are just as Henry Ford said, "you can have your Model T in any color you want just as long as it's black" Parents can only choose from the menu the mayor and the so called reformers give them. This is their definition of how it's a "civil rights" choice. It's a choice to be a slave and not know it.

  5. This development comes as no surprise to any teacher in the RCSD. Thank goodness the Chicago teachers and their President did not and have not fallen under the Brizard "Cult of Personality", unlike our RCSD President Urbanski. Perhaps even less surprising is a similar teacher revolt underway in North Syracuse, NY over similar concerns with their Superintendent, Kim Dyce-Faucette. Ms. Dyce-Faucette, of course, was Brizard's hand picked second in command in Rochester. Details:


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