Earlier today, I received Seth Lavin’s School Wonks email newsletter. In it, he refers to Jean-Claude as an alien, and either predicts or recommends that the BoE remove him from his position:
“It’s insane that we’ve arrived here. For Rahm, firing Brizard essentially means raising a white flag on his entire first year of school reform. Yet that’s actually become a less damaging alternative than the charade of acting like Brizard’s relevant or speaks for CPS.”
Um, what? As you know, I like Brizard. But also, I can’t believe that Lavin is calling for his dismissal already. It seems incredibly short-sighted to want to axe the first educator we’ve had in the job since it was created by Mayor Daley in 1995. (For the record, Paul Vallas came from the city’s budget office, Arne Duncan came from Ariel charters [always as a director; never as a teacher], Ron Huberman came from the police force/city offices/CTA, and Terry Mazany is a banker.)
Hasn’t CPS suffered enough turmoil and turnover? How on Earth is CPS ever going to improve if it can’t suffer a leader for longer than 24 months? Really Seth? What would you have Rahm and the Board of Education do–hire yet another smart bureaucrat who leaves before he can get acclimated to this complex system? All jobs have a learning curve; how many CPS CEOs have been able to climb up it to effectively perform their jobs? In 2009, the Tribune published an article about Ron Huberman’s appointment. They wrote:
“Each time, Daley has gone outside the education bureaucracy and chosen a leader who comes with new ideas and strong administrative and financial skills.”
To me, Brizard seems no different from his predecessors in possession of these skills. Where he does seem different is in his willingness to listen to teachers and parents and the mayor, and his ability to know what good principal leadership and good teaching practice actually looks like.