Chicago's CEO Short List: Brizard Sounds Like Perfect Candidate for Rahm

Rahm Emanuel's short list of outsiders for new schools CEO includes Rochester superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard. This, even though Brizard just recently signed a three-year deal at Rochester.
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The Chicago Tribune reports that Rahm Emanuel's short list of outsiders for new schools CEO includes current Rochester superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard. This, even though Brizard, the latest through Rochester's revolving door of school bosses, just recently signed a three-year deal. After all, he's ONLY making $235,000 in Rochester and could be using a Chicago offer to leverage more back home. But he would certainly do better money-wise in Chi-town, where a broken school budget never stopped those at the top of the system from enriching themselves or moving on to bigger and better things.

Brizard takes credit for a reported slight bump in test scores and has a background in education which, Emanuel hopes, 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 market.

In Rochester, Brizard is embraced by local biz reformers but despised by many teachers and parents. In February, he received a vote of "no confidence" from an overwhelming majority of Rochester teachers. He was originally 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."

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.

Ah, sounds like the perfect candidate for Rahm.

Others on Rahm's short list reportedly include Baltimore's Andres Alonso, and Jerry Weast from suburban Montgomery County, Md.

A version of this column is cross-posted on my SmallTalk blog.

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