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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Fri Apr 22nd 2011, 09:20 PM
An education blogger refers to it as "a fine mess". He may be right.

A fine mess you've got us into, Rahm

Emanuel isn't even officially mayor yet and he's already got the city and its schools in a fine mess. His appointment of the embattled J.C. Brizard as our new schools CEO rivals only Bloomberg's pick of Cathie Black in N.Y. as most embarrassing. Anyone paying attention should have seen this coming.

Back in 2008, Gary Stager, a senior editor at District Administration Magazine described Brizard as being reality-impaired and driven by ideology. His condemnation, by 95% of Rochester teachers should have been a clue, even to the most clueless. His inability to find any common ground with Adam Urbanski, probably the most reform-minded union leader in the country, not only is a tip-off to Brizard's style of work, it also tips the new mayor's hand, showing that with union negotiations on the near horizon, he too has little or no interest in bargaining in good faith.

By picking Brizard, without any consultation or input from the school community, Rahm has somehow managed to mire himself, his new school board, and the city in a major scandal. Brizard's violation of his three-year contract in Rochester, which began Jan. 1, reveals not only a lack of commitment or integrity, but also has that district's board president threatening litigation.

It's only taken the Chicago media (with some help from local bloggers and Rochester journalists like Rachel Barnhart) about a week to expose Brizard's phony test-score and graduation-rate gains. A Rochester "miracle"? The honeymoon is therefore declared over before it's even begun.


Interesting to see that the Chicago Tribune spares no words on this subject.

New CPS chief leaves old district mired in questions, controversy

ROCHESTER, N.Y. ——
When Rochester City Schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard departs to take charge of Chicago's public school system, he'll leave behind a largely broken school district with dismal test scores, shaky finances and a fractured relationship with teachers.

Though Brizard touts improvements in graduation rates and test scores among his accomplishments in his 3 1/2 years, opinion is sharply divided on whether he has made a significant difference in the performance of the district's largely low-income black and Latino students.

Thirty of the city's schools, about half, failed federal academic standards, based on last year's testing, according to the New York education agency. Twelve high schools and junior-senior highs are so troubled that they made the government's list of worst-of-the-worst schools, state records show. The district also faces deficits and dwindling reserves, as well as an impasse with teachers in contract negotiations.


The blog of another educator activist also has some strong words.

In Education, Nothing Succeeds Quite Like Failure

That would be the failure of the elite administrators and reformers. Teachers dare not fail.

I just read with horror that Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emmanuel has appointed Rochester, NY schools superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to be the new Cathie Black of the Chicago Public Schools (the nation’s 2nd largest school district). This continues FOO’s (friends of Obama) full-scale assault on public education and teacher unions begun months before President Obama was even elected.

Apparently, large city schools superintendent is the only job for which references are not checked.

Jean-Claude Brizard is an Eli Broad disciple whose singular genius was creating in-school suspensions where kids waste time doing nothing in school, rather than outside of school. That’s some reform!

Since coming to Rochester in January 2008, Brizard has pushed for his own brand of reform: instituting a contentious in-school suspension policy, and moving problematic teachers out of classrooms into what some New York City teachers call “rubber rooms.” (Rochester City Newspaper – March 17, 2010)


The Seattle Education blog has an interesting post about being infected with the Broad virus...and how to know if you have been.

How to tell if your school district is infected.

Those of us who have experienced the “leadership” of L.A. billionaire Eli Broad’s corporate-trained superintendents send Chicago our condolences. We have been there, done that, with scars to show for it, and nothing in the way of real academic or positive gains for our schools and kids.

In fact, the Broad brand has been seriously tarnished lately, to the point where it really should be considered a liability rather than an asset. Here are just a few examples of Broad supts who have been ousted or left their districts in a cloud of controversy: LaVonne Sheffield (Broad Superintendents Academy “Class of 2002? – resigned), Rockford, Ill.; Maria Goodloe-Johnson (Broad “Class of 2003? - fired), Seattle, Wa.; Matthew H. Malone (Broad “Class of 2003? – resigned) former superintendent of Swampscott, MA; Deborah Sims (Broad “Class of 2005?- resigned), Antioch, CA.


The blog also mentions Robert Bobb in Detroit, and Brizard going to Chicago. Then it gets into the symptoms.

What’s striking is the similarity of the reigns of terror and error of these Broad ‘graduates.’ Disturbingly so, in fact. Many of the above earned No Confidence votes from their district’s teachers, and from parents too. All meted out a top-down dictatorial approach. Most alienated parents. Many closed schools. A number had questionable audits on their watch. More than one had false or questionable data to support their reforms. All commanded large salaries with perqs, while at the same time slashing services for kids and closing schools in the name of financial scarcity. A number of them avoided informing the elected school board of their plans or actively withheld information from them, effectively bypassing democracy.

Scandal, controversy, animosity followed them all, inevitably out the door.


And yet the huge amount of money Eli Broad and others like him, Bill Gates and the Waltons in particular have donated to school districts....has given them a power. Educators who know how to run schools and understand real in-depth learning processes don't have a voice much anymore.

There are "fine messes" in many public schools now, and I worry that no one is taking them seriously.
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