Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicago’s hiring of Jean Claude Brizard

A friend's comments on Chicago's hiring of Jean Claude Brizard:


On Chicago's hiring of Jean Claude Brizard, the children of Chicago are the big winners and the children in Rochester NY are the big losers.  Well done Chicago.

I have known jean Claude since he came to Rochester in late 2007.  He always puts the education of the children at the center of decisions.  He is visionary and transforms the vision into viable strategies and executes.  He uses clear  data as the basis of his decisions and isn't afraid of being held accountable or to hold others accountable.  He believes that children can learn no matter what the circumstances of their lives and is fully committed to their success.  He is a leader's leader.

So far as Rochester goes, it is a textbook case on why elected boards don't work in urban settings.  There are seven members of the board and only one is fully competent to be on the board, and she's the youngest!  A couple of others generally land right side up eventually, one uses the board perch to campaign for mayor and the other three shouldn't be allowed to run a two person office let alone a 32 thousand student school district.  

The previous mayor , Bob Duffy ,started a campaign for mayoral control last year and then bailed in the middle of it to run for Lt. Governor.  The teachers union, under the eternal leadership of Adam Urbanski, has waged a malicious and continuous personal attack on Mr. Brizard for two years.  They threatened then held a no-confidence vote, (by the same secret ballot they propose to take away from other workers).  The board never stood up for Mr. Brizard until four members did a few days before he took the Chicago position; by then the ship had sailed.  

The board stayed quiet while numerous citizens, the business community, university presidents and the inner city churches tried to back Brizard against the union onslaught.  At any time the board could have stood for him and caused the union to tone it down.  At any time they could have backed him.  Instead they chose silence, the silence of incompetence.  As a postscript, then now say they still want his programs implemented.  What a joke.

With a bit of expertise in organizational performance, I cannot see how anyone can expect results from elected boards in our urban settings.  They are the entry positions to Democratic politics and their campaigns are largely financed with union contributions.  Competence is not required, only compliance with the unions.  Since the demise of a second party in our inner cities, school boards have become a barrier to the education of inner city children instead of the effective governance of it.

Keep up the good work Whitney, there are lot of lives at stake.

 Subscribe in a reader