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Emanuel Defends Brizard, Keeps Daley's City Colleges Team

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 26, 2011 7:30PM

Mayor-elect Emanuel intensified his defense of Jean-Claude Brizard as his choice for CEO of Chicago Public Schools yesterday. Emanuel specifically said that a federal discrimination lawsuit filed against Brizard during his time as head of the Rochester Public School District doesn't shake his confidence in him, because former CPS CEO Arne Duncan (now Secretary of Education) faced a similar lawsuit.

“The Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — similar lawsuit in his background. That comes with the territory of trying to make change when stakeholders realize that, you know what, they may not be the beneficiary anymore.”

Emanuel tried to accentuate the positives yesterday, preferring to focus on the graduation rate of students in Rochester under Brizard instead of the system's 39 percent dropout rate and criticism of Brizard from teachers and parents. Brizard was accused in one lawsuit of firing a deputy "without cause" after making disparaging remarks about her age and about how "strong black women" create workplace tensions. Another suit accused Brizard of sending teachers under investigation to a workplace removed from the system, dubbed the "rubber room."

Emanuel also signaled that he plans on keeping City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Board Chairman Martin Cabrera Jr., both appointees of Richard Daley, in their respective positions. But Emanuel also said that he'll be appointing five new members to the City Colleges board and expressed a preference to continue with open enrollment in the system. Hyman and Cabrera's predecessor, Gery Chico, wanted to put an end to open enrollment because the city could no longer afford the $30 million annually it was paying for remedial classes for students who aren't ready for college. Daley was behind the plan, but Emanuel has said that he considers the City Colleges to be a ticket to the middle class.

Given Brizard's track record in Rochester, it's no guarantee that the students he'll be charged with guiding in Chicago will still be able to read if they do go to a city college.