Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Former Schools Chief Opens Up About Emanuel, CPS

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Rahm Emanuel said his outgoing schools CEO has lots to be proud of.

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CPS Working Hard to Avoid Strike: Brizard

A day after Chicago teachers authorized a strike, CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard tells NBC Chicago he's working hard to prevent one.

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So what is it really like to work for Mayor Rahm Emanuel? Former Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard has insight having been there for the Chicago teachers strike, the first in more than 20 years. 

He tells Education Next the mayor's one challenge is to “let go and allow his managers to lead.”   

As Brizard puts it, “MRE was always 'on' and a master at managing media.”  

But the former head of the schools believes the mayor “is actually best when he is not on stage."

Brizard notes Emanuel “was thoughtful, funny and caring” and “is frustrated by the challenges of a school system in crisis and a crime situation that is making international headlines.”

Brizard also said CPS severely underestimated the ability of the teachers union to lead a huge campaign against his administration before the strike.

"It takes a ton of inner strength to watch 4,000-plus people in red shirts outside of your window protesting while a very heavy police presence looked on," he said.

This is the first time someone in the mayor’s administration has spoken so openly. Brizard, who dared to take time off when his second child was born weeks before the strike took place, was replaced by Barbara Byrd-Bennett after the strike was settled. 

When Brizard tendered his resignation, he said he was leaving the role with great sadness, and Emanuel's office classified the move as a "mutual agreement."

Brizard is now a senior advisor for College Board in Washington DC. His name is already being floated as a possible future Chancellor for the New York City schools.

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