Posts Tagged ‘Rochester schools’

Rochester parent responds to Brizard apologist

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Rochester parents protest proposal for mayoral control of schools (Photo from

I received this e-mail from Parents Across America affiliate member Howard Eagle, a former Rochester teacher and active member of the Rochester Community Education Task Force.

His description of CPS CEO-in-waiting Jean-Claude Brizard’s action to dismantle a representative parent and community group sounds a whole lot like what CPS under Vallas did with the Multi-Lingual Parent Council and the LSC Advisory Board (which we call L-SCAB) as well as Arne Duncan’s various efforts to get rid of local school councils. Brizard’s comments that Eagle’s group “does not represent parents” and “only wants to maintain the status quo” also sound quite familiar…

I am a retired, 23-year veteran Social Studies teacher in the Rochester City School District, parent of two, current RCSD students, and member of Rochester’s Community Education Task Force.

With regard to the Fox News report below, “Former Rochester Mayor Defends New CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard”, and especially the allegations that Brizard is “pro-parent” — made by smooth-talking, former Rochester Police Chief and former Rochester Mayor, now Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy… I must express in the strongest of terms that the former, ruffian, top cop, Robert Duffy is a damn liar.

I would never make such a statement without backing it up. What is the evidence that Brizard is in fact anti-parent, especially as it relates to parents who would challenge his education deform agenda and direction?:

1) Several months after Brizard arrived in Rochester we began a community wide, months-long process, which Brizard participated in, and which led to (for the first time in the history of the Rochester City School District) a city-wide elected (by RCSD parents) parent and community organization called the District Wide Parent Council, DPC.

The elected Parent Council had it’s first formal meeting, which Brizard addressed on March 19, 2009. Less than one year later Brizard unilaterally dismantled the elected body (as it was constituted), and set up an undemocratic process by which building-principals were given authority to choose parent representatives to the reconstituted, hand-picked, so-called “new” District Wide Parent Council. Many of us who had been originally elected, were banned from serving on the “new” Council.

2) When a broad-based group of parents, educators and other community members held a press conference on Feb. 1, 2011 to declare our lack of confidence in Brizard— his response (less than an hour after the Feb 1 press conference) is below’

3) Recently, including during a WXXI television interview, Brizard has started referring to those of us who are most vocal in our opposition to his dictatorial mode of operating as C.A.V.E. (citizens against virtually everything). So, in turn, we developed an acronym, which really does describe him quite accurately, i.e. S.L.A.V.E. (superintendents lying about virtually everything).

In any case, we hope that before people accept the lying Lt. Governors’ grossly fallacious claims — that you will do a little investigating.

Sincerely, Howard J. Eagle

(Howard included links to several local news stories; here is an example.)


Feb. 1, 2011 Statement from Rochester Superintendent of Schools Jean-Claude Brizard re: Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change:

I am committed to the children of this city and to working with those who genuinely want to improve the education of our students.

The group protesting today does not represent parents nor does it represent the Rochester community. It is interested only in maintaining the status quo and returning us to a system in which no one was accountable to the families we serve.

I have confidence that we have meaningfully increased literacy and math performance and graduation rates. I have confidence that we are putting children first and not tossing them out to the streets and increasing the incarceration rate. I have confidence that our reform effort, modeled after the best practices in our nation, is bearing fruit.

I have no confidence in former employees who did little for children and enjoyed a system that put adults first.


FOX CHICAGO NEWS Former Rochester Mayor Defends New CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard

Published : Thursday, 21 Apr 2011, 8:42 PM CD
By Political Editor Mike Flannery, FOX Chicago News

Chicago – Jean-Claude Brizard’s political foes in Rochester, N.Y., have painted a false picture of him.

That’s the claim of the man who was mayor when Jean-Claude Brizard was hired to run Rochester’s public schools.

“Jean-Claude is not anti-teacher,” declared Robert Duffy, “He’s pro-child, pro-student, pro-parent.”

Democrat Duffy has been lieutenant governor of New York State since January, serving under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Prior to that, Duffy was twice elected mayor of Rochester. He spoke to FOX Chicago News during a visit to Chicago.

Duffy recalled the day that Brizard came to the mayor’s office to explain his plans for Rochester’s schools.

“At the end of the meeting, everyone in the room suddenly began applauding. He was that impressive,” Duffy said.

“He is such a good person. I think the world of the man. This characterization of him as this blustering leader who steps over teachers is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Duffy said. “And I’m embarrassed that his associates in Rochester would do that.”

That perception stems, in part, from a vote of “no confidence” taken by the Rochester Teachers Association union.

Longtime union President Adam Urbanski fought Brizard’s efforts to offer merit pay for teachers.

Brizard said it was one way to “change the culture” of a school system that now ranks at or near the bottom in almost every category among urban systems in New York State.

For all of his visionary plans, though, Brizard’s critics note that statistics show little, if any improvement, during Brizard’s 3.5 year tenure in Rochester. Duffy said he and others are disappointed that Brizard will not be staying longer to carry out his plans.

Reflecting on Brizard’s stormy tenure, Duffy said there was one thing Brizard could have done to strengthen his standing politically. Duffy said Brizard should have spent more time visiting local schools, talking to teachers, parents and principals in their own neighborhoods….

Is Brizard honeymoon over?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Is it just me, or is it hot in here?

The Sun-Times reports this afternoon that Mayor-elect Emanuel is already on the defensive about his pick for CPS CEO:

“Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended his selection of Jean-Claude Brizard to head Chicago’s public schools as controversy mounted in Rochester, N.Y., about the terms of Brizard’s departure there.”

Part of that heat is over Brizard’s unsupported claim that he raised graduation rates in Rochester by 13%. Chicago media was a little slow to jump on the facts (which I posted yesterday), but they’re on it now like white on rice:

“Although Emanuel initially touted Brizard for raising the Rochester graduation rate, the only publicly available official data shows Rochester’s four-year graduation rate went down in 2009. In a news release on the Rochester School District website, Brizard cited figures indicating that by 2010, it had improved, but the 2010 figures have not yet been released by the New York State Board of Education.”

Add to that the excruciatingly thorough (yes, I loved it!) expose by Eric Zorn in his blog yesterday, followed by his print comments today:

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.

and his re-post of my article about Rahm’s repeated lies about our schools, under the headline,

Perhaps a clue why Emanuel didn’t care about Brizard’s slippery graduation statistics,

and you have the beginnings at the very least of a PR disaster for the master media manipulator, Rahm Emanuel.

You also don’t want to miss Curtis Black’s NewsTips story on Brizard, which includes some quotes from the new Parent Across America Guide to the Broad Academy’s Education Programs and Policies which PAA published yesterday.

My predictions

I believe that there’s a chance that Brizard will never make it as CPS CEO. And for my next prediction, I believe that Rahm Emanuel will have a very bumpy ride as mayor from the get-go, not the mostly kid-glove treatment Daley has gotten. Why? Because Rahm is a behind-the-scenes manipulator, not a front man. The classic front man (insert your favorite – mine is Arne Duncan) has that corn-fed grin that’s essential to convincing folks that a lie is not a lie, or that at least if it is a lie, the liar doesn’t mean it and really has all of our best interests at heart.

That’s not Rahm. When he smiles, you kind of want to hide your children.

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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.