In a move sure to rile up the city’s teachers union, Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announced on Monday the appointment of controversial reformer Jean-Claude Brizard to head the city schools.
Brizard comes to Chicago following a three-year tenure as superintendent of schools in Rochester, New York. While there was a documented rise in student achievement during his time at the helm (according to his resignation letter) he often was at odds with the district’s teachers union for insisting teacher pay to be connected to student test scores, and taking teachers out of classrooms over claims of insubordination, Rochester Teachers Association president Adam Urbanski told the Chicago Tribune.
Brizard’s battle with teachers unions will likely continue in Chicago. The union gave Brizard a vote of no-confidence based on his initiatives back in February.
"We get it. I'm going to buy some boxing gloves now," said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union told the Chicago Tribune in response to the appointment. "But did I think Rahm Emanuel was going to put some reasonable people in place? Of course not."
Chicago schools face a growing deficit, student underperformance and school safety issues.
In his budget proposal, Brizard made about $80 million in cuts to the financially strapped system, which included 1,000 layoffs.
During a news conference at Chicago’s Southwest Side High School, Emanuel praised Haitian-born Brizard for making “tough choices” at his previous position in Rochester.