Posts Tagged ‘Brizard’

PURE member rates Brizard, throws in Rahm

Friday, August 31st, 2012

You may remember back in December of 2010 when Linda Hudson filed an Office for Civil Rights complaint against the CPS student retention policy .

The OCR investigation is still underway and Linda still has her eye on CPS.

Here’s her great letter in today’s Sun-Times:

“Rahm Emanuel and Jean-Claude Brizard. Let me get this right, there has not been a Chicago Public Schools strike in 25 years; so what’s the common denominator here? Rahm Emanuel and Jean-Claude Brizard. Every day I’m rethinking my mayoral vote. It’s time for an elected school board.”

That just about perfectly sums up the situation!!!! Thanks, Linda.

Brizard report card not so hot

Friday, August 31st, 2012

I don’t know what was a bigger surprise – that a Chicago Board actually evaluated a CEO or that the Tribune reported on it.

To the best of my knowledge, no one ever evaluated Paul Vallas, Arne Duncan or any of the rest of them. In fact, most did not even have a contract, certainly not one like Brizard’s with an end date.

And yet there was the report, and it wasn’t too good:

  • The board gave Brizard low marks for the way he communicates and runs the district.
  • In the performance review, the school board rated Brizard as “inconsistently meets” expectations for management of human resources and talent and communications and collaboration.
  • “His staff are not sure what they are doing nor who’s responsible to whom in most cases,” the assessment reads.
  • The board also noted that Brizard could more clearly articulate the district’s strategy with “an operational plan.” Central office employees, for example, often complain they don’t know who runs the district.

What do they like about him? He’s a real nice guy. “He exceeded expectations in the “personal characteristics’ category.”

Since Brizard left his last job in Rochester with a fake resume of accomplishment and a vote of no confidence from the teachers union, his career trajectory hasn’t exactly soared. Wonder if the Broad folks are still proud of their alum?


Rochesterian reflects on Brizard’s leadership style

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Interesting post by Rachel Barnhart on her Rochesterian blog. She compares the district’s current interim superintendent with their former, unlamented Supt J C Brizard:

“This time last year, former Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard proposed cutting 900 jobs and gutting art, music and physical education. Tonight, Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas proposed adding 54 classroom teachers, primarily in the elective subjects decimated by his predecessor. Brizard’s budget, under the guise of “equitable funding,” raised class sizes, left some kids with only one period of gym a week and closed libraries. Vargas’ budget cuts Central Office, administrative positions and consultants….Brizard’s budget left displaced teachers collecting unemployment through the summer until they were rehired at the last minute. Vargas’ budget assures placement before the end of the school year, saving taxpayers a lot of money.

She concludes: “(O)ne wonders about Brizard’s management style. Perhaps the former Rochester superintendent truly believed in large class sizes and limited electives. The only other explanation is he was incompetent, evil or lacked creativity.”



PSAT for 4-3-12: It’s LISTEN UP time!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Aren’t you tired of speaking out and not being heard?

Aren’t you fed up with school boards holding hearings but not listening?

Don’t you feel like screaming every time Arne Duncan, Rahm Emanuel or JC Brizard spout the same cliches and unsubstantiated pronouncements about how to improve schools?

Don’t you think it’s time that we called these appointed officials out on the b******t???

I’m going to tell you how in a minute.

What got me started on this today? Well, it doesn’t ever take much, as you know, but this time it started with my previous blog post about the apparent deafness of the Illinois State Board of Education to thoughtful, legitimate concerns raised by the public about its proposed new testing and school labeling system.

But then I’ve also been thinking about the earnest efforts of Chicago parents, including the Raise Your Hand and 19th Ward Parents groups, fighting CPS’s proposed unfunded, one-size-fits-all Longer Day, They have been politely but firmly asking to be heard and to have their reasonable questions answered about what exactly will be happening during this longer day, only to be met with arrogance and nonsense.

A while back I brought to your attention the great analysis of my current research heroes — those delightful debunkers at the the National Education Policy Center — of the Public Agenda report explaining to self-described “education reformers” how they can give us stupid, stupid parents the run-around on school turnarounds despite our natural opposition. Here’s how NEPC describes the plan:

(P)arents can, the report explains, be brought around to support what the authors characterize as “bold action to transform deeply inadequate schools, including closing or fundamentally reshaping the leadership, programs, and staffing at these schools.”

To accomplish that, the report provides eight “communication strategies” directed at parents and communities. The strategies, and the report itself, are based in large part on an unspecified number of focus groups conducted with parents in four cities. For instance, turnaround advocates are told to “Provide information—not too little and not too much” and to “Remember to tell stories [testimonials].”

….After hearing directly from parents who described their concerns about school turnaround proposals, these concerns were set aside – as a practical matter, they were ignored.  Instead, the focus groups were used “to test messaging that would manipulate those groups’ participants (and, by extension, the wider community) into favoring federal turnaround approaches,” according to Mathis. The result is a document that’s “paternalistic and arrogant” in its “criticism of parents for not knowing what’s good for them.”

What’s even creepier than the plan itself is the way the rich backers of corporate reform and school privatization have collaborated in dumping millions of dollars into their propaganda war.

OK. So what do we do? How do we fight the propaganda and force them to listen?

The answer, I believe, is to keep doing what we’re doing but do it more and more in front of legislators, aldermen, etc. They have power, too, and because they are ACTUALLY ELECTED,  they are more responsive than appointed school boards, appointed secretaries of education, etc.

And it’s already working. The elected officials are beginning to make our arguments for us, and they are the ones who have been the targets of Stand for Children’s money and corporate reform lobbying. I gave you three local examples just recently:

  • The debate in the Senate Education Committee over Senator Delgado’s proposed bill to stop Noble charter school from imposing disciplinary fines: “Delgado pointed out that no research has generated findings that such ‘financial punishment’ has beneficial effects.”
  • The drubbing JC Brizard took at the Illinois House Education Committee meeting last Thursday when Rep Monique Davis asked, “Is [CEO] Brizard just a figurehead? Someone is making big dollars … to manage the turnarounds.”
  • The opinion piece by Congressman Danny Davis opposing Noble’s discipline policy.

Someone’s listening now!

And it’s not just here in Chicago or Springfield. Listen to these arguments made by Mississippi legislators opposed to charter expansion in that state – don’t they sound familiar? (The answer is yes! We have been making them for several years now!):

  • Why not begin with a pilot program and see what works and what does not?
  • National studies show that charter schools do not outperform charter schools on a sustained basis.
  • If we want to improve education, how can we do that by reducing the number of certified teachers?
  • What remedy does a parent have to make sure a charter school does what it is supposed to do? To whom can they turn? All you can do is leave the school, which is not an effective way to hold the charter school accountable.
  • X asked about charters cherry-picking the best students and casting out those that under-perform academically or misbehave.

You’d think they were reading my blog….

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday, it’s LISTEN UP time! Reach out to an ELECTED official and tell them some truth about our schools. Some of them are listening, and some of them can make CPS listen.

Chicago Aldermen contacts here. You might ask them to dig into the longer school day – here are some ideas from Raise Your Hand.

Illinois Senators here and Illinois Representatives here. You might ask them to read Congressman Davis’s opinion piece on Noble charter school here and support Sen. Delgado’s bill SB 637 to end charters fining low-income students.


PSAT for 3-27-12: Crank up the pressure!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Perhaps in response to Illinois having been named the third most corrupt state in the nation, and maybe also just having watched former governor Blagojevich head off to prison for 14 years, our state legislators have begun acting uncannily as though they are listening to us instead of the power elite.

First we heard about Sen. Delgado sponsoring an amendment to ban charter schools from charging fines for disciplinary infractions, in direct response to the efforts of PURE, VOYCE and the Advancement Project to challenge the absurd and unfair policy of CPS’s pet charter company, Noble Network. AND the amendment passed out of the Senate Education Committee, which has yet to move on several other bills that we support.

That bill has more recently been amended again; instead of a flat ban on fees for disciplinary infractions, it now states that charter schools must waive all fees for low-income students as defined by the federal free lunch program, which is currently the case for non-charter public schools. We feel that this is an even better bill. One of the biggest problems parents have with charter schools are the various fees that can add up and even get in the way of earning credits and being promoted or graduating.

Now we hear that several state representatives ganged up on CPS at yesterday’s House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing on HB 4487, the House companion to the Senate school closing moratorium bill, SB 3239. Chicago parents, teachers, and students have been calling for strong action to stop CPS for years.

According to this lively report from Jim Broadway in Catalyst, several Chicago reps were furious that CPS sent lower-level staffers to speak in place of CEO Brizard and Mayor Rahm. Things got so heated that committee chair Linda Chapa LaVia had to take a break and move the reps out of the room to cool them down, something that apparently has never happened before. At their request, she also dismissed the CPS staffers in favor of listening to testimony from two students.

Here are some of the rep’s comments:

  • Rep. Esther Golar: “We have been bamboozled again by CPS.”
  • Rep. Mary Flowers: CPS is “destroying our future.”
  • Rep. Cynthia Soto: “What does it take [for CPS] to understand?”
  • Rep. Kenneth Duncan: CPS officials need to “show us some respect.”
  • Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, who chairs the education appropriations committee: If it takes “holding the funding [from CPS to gain its cooperation], so be it.”
  • Rep. Monique Davis: “Is [CEO] Brizard just a figurehead? Someone is making big dollars … to manage the turnarounds.”

Even Republican Downstaters got into the act:

  • Rep. Robert Prichard (R-Sycamore): CPS is “not serving the people of Chicago” as it should.

Maybe there was an all-General Assembly viewing of “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” the night before.

At any rate, they are calling for a joint meeting of the Senate and House education committees and the House and Senate education appropriations committees for this THURSDAY 3/29 at 8 am to discuss the proopsed school closing moratorium.

Let’s not waste the momentum, shall we? Here’s one easy thing you can do: File an online witness slip in support of HB 4487. The link will take you to the correct page. The subject matter is the school closing moratorium. PURE supports it.

If you can do more, please also contact your state senator and state rep. Ask him/her to:

1) Join as a co-sponsor of SB 637 to require charter schools to waive fees for low-income students. It’s time to stop the use of exorbitant fees charter schools use to push out low-income students.

2) Join as a co-sponsor of SB 3239/HB 4487 calling for a school closing moratorium. The children of Chicago have waited long enough for school leaders to act responsibly.

  • Stop the experimentation that hasn’t worked!
  • Stop pushing students from one struggling school to the next!
  • Stop firing our most experienced teachers without reason!
  • Stop selling our schools out to private companies that are not accountable to the public!

Let’s crank up the pressure!

PSAT for 2-14-12: Call Brizard again! Plan to come see Monty! Waivers!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

For Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT) today,

1) Parents 4 Teachers is asking you to help keep the pressure on CPS CEO Brizard about school closings and turnarounds. Call today 773-553-1500. I plan to fax my message to him at 773-553-1501. Some points to mention are below.

2) Plan to come to the forum, “Winning the Testing Battle/ Overhauling NCLB/ESEA” at UIC with FairTest’s Monty Neill tomorrow, Wednesday Feb. 15, at 6 pm. in the Cardinal Room at UIC’s Student Center East (701 S. Halsted at Polk, public parking in structure across Halsted).

3) Consider providing testimony  to ISBE on the ESEA waiver request they propose to submit to the US Department of Education. They never give us much time to do this – the proposal has only been posted for a couple of days here but the public hearings are tomorrow, Wednesday, 2/15, in Schaumburg and Thursday, 2/16, in Berwyn. Details here. Written input can be submitted (see previous link for e-mail address) but it has to be in by 5 pm Friday Feb.17. The proposal itself is due Feb. 21.

ISBE is supposed to give evidence to the feds that it has listened and adjusted its proposal in response to public input, so it’s not a complete shot in the dark.I have not had time to prepare anything yet but I’ve taken a quick look. True to past behavior, ISBE is pledging more standardized testing including making the 8th/9th grade EXPLORE test and 10th grade PLAN test mandatory.

4) It’s Valentine’s Day! Hug a teacher – or any other real education advocate!!!


Re: your call to Brizard on school closings and turnarounds, you might mention some of the following points (sources are here):

  • New Consortium research shows that the positive effect of turnarounds in elementary schools is very small, and there is negligible improvement in the high school turnarounds.
  • One expert said of the turnarounds, “Shifting students and changing labels is not a legitimate way to improve a school.”
  • The numbers of experienced African-American teachers like you are plummeting in the turnarounds while the numbers of inexperienced white teachers is climbing.
  • The 10 AUSL schools also had an overall enrollment decline in special education students of 14.9% between 2006 and 2010. The district wide decline during the same time period was 3.9%.
  • Meanwhile, turnarounds are very costly. While all reform models have been implemented with additional money, turnaround efforts require the largest investment from the district. For example, AUSL elementary schools receive $1.5 million more than their neighborhood counterparts during the first five years of turnaround and an additional $420 per pupil each year. For high schools, AUSL receives $2.4 million more than their neighborhood counterparts over the course of five years and an additional $500 per pupil each year. Aren’t you supposed to be trying to save money?

PSAT for 2-7-12: Get in on the Tuesday action!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

More groups are picking up on the idea of doing something every Tuesday to fight for our public schools – Public Schools Action Tuesday, PSAT!

Chicago’s Parents 4 Teachers group is continuing its Tuesday call-in campaign to CPS to stop school closings (see #1 below).

And next Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 9 pm EST, the Save Our Schools March is kicking off an every-Tuesday social media #SOSchat. The Valentine’s Day-appropriate topic? “What Do I LOVE About Public Schools?” More on that next week.

PURE’s PSAT actions for 2-7-12:

1) CALL IN – Parents 4 Teachers is asking everyone to call Chicago Public Schools CEO JC Brizard again this Tuesday and for the next two Tuesdays leading up to the February 22, 2012, Board of Education meeting, asking for a stop to school closings and turnarounds. Lots of calls were made last week – let’s keep the pressure on!


Parents 4 Teachers asks: If you’ve already called, thank you. Go ahead and call again and please commit to getting TWO more people to call. These school actions will have a devastating impact on students, families and their communities. CPS should be working to improve schools, not close them. Please forward this to everyone you know who’s committed to working for quality schools for ALL Chicago children.

2) SIGN – Dump Duncan! Chicago’s Arne Duncan has done what many thought was impossible – made the No Child Left Behind law even worse than it was under George W Bush. Here’s your chance to ask President Obama to give a sign that he gets it, and that he wants people who care about education to care again about voting for him. Sign the Dump Duncan petition!

3) QUESTION: Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force advisor Jackie Leavy notes that more hearing officer reports have been posted on the CPS web site. Apparently most of the reports “find” in favor of CPS’s proposals. How do the hearing officers’ reports line up with what was actually said in the hearings?

Jackie also mentions that a City Council Education Committee hearing on CPS school closings and other actions that was supposed to be held yesterday was cancelled. If your alderman is a member of this committee (and even if he/she is not) you may want to ask why, and let them know your opinion on these actions.

City Council Ed Committee chair is Latasha Thomas, and the vice-chair is Rey Colon. Committee members are:

Moreno, Dowell, Sawyer, Beale, Cardenas, O’Shea, Munoz, Solis, Maldonado, Burnett, Ervin, Waguespack,Laurino, P. O’Connor, M. O’Connor, Osterman

The Committee will be meeting this Thursday, Feb 9, at 10 am in Room 201A, on another topic, so that might be a good time to ask them what’s going on.

Here are some more great questions for policy makers from Diane Ravitch (“Do politicians know anything about schools and education? Anything?”).

4) READ/SHARE: Wonder why CPS can “listen” so much at so many hearings and yet “hear” nothing that parents, students, teachers, the community, other educators, research experts, and scientists are saying? You may be interested in reading through their playbook, “What’s Trust Got to do with it?,” a report by Public Agenda which was recently reviewed by the corporate reform myth-busters at the National Education Policy Center.

NEPC’s review is usefully titled, “Giving Parents the Run-around on School Turnarounds.” 

The press release for this review describes Public Agenda’s advice for officials dealing with community resistance to the drastic actions they are determined to impose on schools:

In the face of such reaction, the authors of What’s Trust Got to Do With It? focus on how to better sell the concept. They assume that resistant parents simply don’t understand “how bad” their local schools are….(T)he report never treats seriously the substantive concerns of resistant parents; it never questions the fundamental strategy that it proposes communicating about….The result is a document that’s “paternalistic and arrogant” in its “criticism of parents for not knowing what’s good for them.”




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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.