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Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Incoming CPS Chief Already Busy With Homework

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Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's choice to lead the Chicago Public Schools, says got a budget and the teachers union on his mind.

Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's choice to lead the Chicago Public Schools, is keeping busy with the homework for his new job.

On his mind: the school budget and how to ease into a relationship with the Chicago Teachers Union.

While he needs to be approved by the City Council, he's already talking longer school days and how to improve on the reforms he started in Rochester, New York.

He'll sit down next week with CTU President Karen Lewis for the first time and has some hot button issues to talk about.

"I'm a big believer in differentiated pay -- not merit pay -- differentiated pay, because teachers don't do this for money.  If they did, none of us would be teachers," he said.

Lewis will no doubt want to hear more about "allowing teachers to control how they get their pay increase."

Brizard leaves Rochester after four years, but actually he was trained in NYC as a teacher first, then up the ranks as an administrator.

Before accepting the Chicago job, the city of Newark, New Jersey was interested in Brizard, but then Emanuel lured him here.

Brizard will not back away from conflict, saying that he won't allow the system to change him.

"I am who I am, I've been in this profession 25 years," he said.  "I intend to move the system we know it can go."

On Thursday, Brizard was busy house hunting with his wife and 17-month-old son.

"My wife's been bugging me for years to move to Chicago, now she's got her wish," he laughed.

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