Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel Monday announced the next chief of Chicago Public Schools, as well as a number of new School Board members.
"My choice to lead the Chicago Public Schools through its next chapter is JC Brizard," Emanuel said at a morning news conference introducing the Hatian-born administrator.
Jean-Claude Brizard, who resigned as Rochester, New York's school superintendant after three years, will take over for interim chief Terry Mazany for the third largest school district in the country.
Emanuel's new school board members include Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University; Andrea Zopp, President of the Urban League; and Penny Pritzker.
Brizard rose to the position of administrator through the ranks of teachers but ultimately clashed with the teacher's union there over charter schools and merit pay. Emanuel long said he wanted a schools CEO with an educational, not administrative, background.
"His leadership put Rochester on the right path," Emanuel said, noting Brizard's achievments in improving test scores and graduation rates in the Northern New York city. J.C. has also made politically difficult decisions to put the children of Rochester first."
But Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teacher's Association, disagrees on Brizard's effectiveness.
"Jean Claude Brizard didn't fix all the problems in Rochester. I'm not sure he fixed any problems in Rochester, but then no single person can do that," Urbanski said.
Brizard may already be headed for a fight with Chicago's teacher's union on the merit pay issue.
"I don't think that dangling an incentive that some teachers get and some teachers don't is an effective way to improve education in the city," said Jesse Sharkey, VP of the Chicago Teacher's Union at an afternoon press conference.
Brizard says he is looking forward to the opportunity to lead Chicago's schools.
"My family and I look forward to calling Chicago home," he said. "This is an exciting and challenging time."
He'll be asked to turn around a struggling organization and push an agenda of reform.
"To solve the challenges facing our city we'll need to come together for reform," Emanuel said at a news conference.
Friday Emanuel stopped by Johnson College Prep to deliver a similar reform message, telling assembled media that school days will be lengthened and no discussion will be had.
"We’re not going to negotiate or discuss whether children get more instruction -- we will work together so that gets done. I’m not deviating from that. I was clear about it," Emanuel told reporters.
The question, of course, pertains to how teachers will be paid.
"Every year, for the last nine years, every year -- pay has been increased by four percent. Instructional time: zero," Emanuel said. "We will have a longer school day of instructional time and a longer school year, so the kids in Chicago aren't cheated as they are today."
His comments came a day after the Illinois House passed a measure that makes it more difficult for teachers to strike and easier for them to be let go due to poor performance. The measure is expected to also pass the state senate.
There was no immediate indication Monday of when Brizard would assume his new duties. Emanuel takes office May 16.