Home > Education "reform" > “Broadie” Brizard’s claims questioned in Chicago

“Broadie” Brizard’s claims questioned in Chicago

Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is already under fire for selecting Rochester school superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to take over the helm of the Windy City’s public schools, based in part on some questionable claims Brizard made about his tenure in Rochester.

Brizard departs after completing less than three years in Rochester. He’s an alumnus of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy, a training program funded by a leader of the Billionaire Boys’ Club that bankrolls most of the education “reform” crowd. Broad and his pals believe public schools should be run as a business and advocate for charter schools, despite little or no evidence that charters achieve better results.

Meanwhile, readers of the Rochester Business Journal are in full boo-hoo-hoo mode over Brizard’s departure — about what you’d expect from wealthy white Republican suburbanites who tend to be fond of education “reform” leadership that does nothing to challenge established power. More on that later.

Out west in Chi-town, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn cast a jaundiced eye on Brizard’s “achievements” in Rochester:

Can Rochester, N.Y., superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard pad a payroll? Skirt the rules? Spend frivolously? Distort statistics to make himself look good? Infuriate his constituents with a high-handed style? Check, check, check, check and check.

The headline on today’s Chicago Tribune reads “CPS’ new boss faces skeptics” while the Sun-Times featured an editorial declaring “New schools chief’s record exaggerated.” Couldn’t be too pleasing for Emanuel…or for Brizard. According to the Trib’s front-page story:

A Tribune analysis of state and district records shows that even the accomplishments Brizard has heralded in his short time in Rochester are not what they seem. For example, the district’s passing rates on state achievement tests have increased in both math and English language arts across elementary grades, but scores plummeted in 2010 when the state raised the bar because of concerns that the test was too easy to pass.

Even so, Brizard is fondly remembered at the Rochester Business Journal, which conducted a “snap poll” to assess reactions to J-C’s move west. “Jean-Claude Brizard’s departure will be a negative for the Rochester City School District, say nearly three-quarters of respondents,” the RBJ moans.

The comments of nursing-home magnate Robert Hurlbut (whose kids attend private schools) are typical:

I thought Jean-Claude was doing a great job. He had great ideas and was starting to make an impact. The teachers union as usual ruined it. [Union president Adam] Urbanski should be fired. Nothing will change until he leaves. Teachers do not work a full year, yet their benefits are better than anybody else. It is nothing more than a welfare state.

Here’s a taste of the Broad Academy approach that’s so admired by the business types, from an analysis by Parents Across America, a group opposed to corporate-style efforts to privatize public schools.

Continual reorganizations, firings of staff, and experimentation to create chaos or “churn” is believed to be productive and beneficial, as it weakens the ability of communities to resist change….The brusque and often punitive management style of Broad-trained leaders has frequently alienated parents and teachers and sparked protests.

Bill Sez: Sure sounds like an accurate description of Brizard’s “leadership” of the Rochester schools. Good luck, Chicago.

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Categories: Education "reform"
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