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New Schools Chief Describes "Clear Vision" for CPS

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett discussed her goals for the district, concerns over school closings and working with Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

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Chicago Public Schools'  fourth chief in less than two years says "everything is on the table" in her plan for the district, from deficit solutions to moving on from this summer's teacher strike.

"We have a very clear vision that's been set," Barbara Byrd-Bennett told NBC Chicago Wednesday, "and that is to get quality schools in all of our communities [and] to leverage our position around leadership -- we think leadership is terribly important -- starting with principals and their autonomy and moving right into the classroom and ensuring the profession is in fact a profession."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Byrd-Bennett last Friday to replace Jean-Claude Brizard, who announced his resignation earlier that day in a press release after remaining mostly silent during the strike.

Byrd-Bennett had served as CPS' chief education adviser and remained vocal throughout strike negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. About a week after being named schools CEO, she said Wednesday the district is working with union president Karen Lewis to plan teachers' professional development.

"I intend to be incredibly visible in our classrooms and in our schools," she said. "I think that leveraging the community and rebuilding community trust around what we need to do for our children is of primary importance, and I think that falls on my shoulders."

She acknowledged the leadership style is different from her predecessor. 

"JC is a friend, a colleague," she said. "I think he is an incredibly visionary leader, and I'm looking forward to moving forward.

As for lingering feelings from the strike, CPS' downgraded credit rating and a troublesome budget, Byrd-Bennett again said "we're putting everything on the table" to examine all options "to make very careful decisions and determinations." 

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