ALSO SEE: Another Broadie Fails+Falls: BRIZARD OUT IN CHICAGO |http://bit.ly/WYNePM
By STEVEN YACCINO, New York Times |http://nyti.ms/RE8xms
October 13, 2012 | CHICAGO:: Just three weeks after a teacher strike here that kept 350,000 children from their classrooms, the head of the city’s public schools system has chosen to step down, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference on Friday.
<< Jean-Claude Brizard’s resignation was announced Friday. Sitthixay Ditthavong/Associated Press
Mr. Emanuel said the departure of Jean-Claude Brizard, who had held the position for only 17 months, was a mutual decision amid reports swirling through the news media about Mr. Brizard’s performance and his relationship with the mayor. That talk had become a “distraction,” Mr. Emanuel said.
"He and I talked and agreed that this is the time for new leadership to take us to the next level of achieving what we need to achieve for our children,” the mayor said.
The shake-up comes just weeks after Chicago’s first teacher strike in 25 years. For nine days last month, 26,000 teachers in the school system, the nation’s third largest, picketed in front of schools and marched through the city as protracted contract negotiations took place.
The strike drew national headlines and raised issues about education reform that have been debated in school districts throughout the country, including the evaluation of teachers, lengthening school days and holding principals accountable for the performance of their schools.
On Friday, Mr. Emanuel said he was pleased with the work that had been done during Mr. Brizard’s tenure, calling Chicago “ground zero” for national education reform. Yet he added that the city’s new teacher contract created the right moment to make the transition.
Replacing Mr. Brizard will be Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was previously a chief education officer for the district and a central figure in the contract negotiations with the teachers’ union last month.
Newly appointed Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett speaks, accompanied by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a news conference, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, in Chicago. Emanuel replaced his embattled public schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard with Bennett, a veteran educator and administrator whose experience in Cleveland, Detroit and New York will help take Chicago school reforms “to the next level.” (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green from Huffington Post) >>
She was previously a principal in New York City for two decades, the chief executive of public schools in Cleveland and academic auditor for Detroit’s struggling public school system.
The Chicago Board of Education is expected to approve the appointment on Oct. 24.
Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, who has battled publicly with Mr. Emanuel in recent months, called the move a step in the “right direction.”
Still, she raised concerns that leadership changes in the district have been too frequent in recent years. “It would be nice to be able to forge a working relationship with someone," she said.
Ms. Byrd-Bennett dismissed concerns about instability when questioned by reporters on Friday. “I don’t tend to go anywhere,” she said. “I don’t know what to do other than sign in blood. I’m here.”