Former Rochester schools chief challenges Brizard's claims he increased Rochester graduation rate

[Substance Editor's Note: The following is from From PURE Thoughts ( by Julie Woestehoff and was originally published by PURE on April 18, 2011. Readers can contact PURE through the website or by phone at 773-538-1135. For those who cannot access the hotlink above to this story, the URL for this PURE story is:].

Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel (right) held a press conference at Chicago's Kelly High School on April 18, 2011, to announce that Jean Claude Brizard (center above) would be his choice for Chief Executive Officer for Chicago's public schools. Emanuel's new school board of seven members will include billionaire Penny Pritzker, above left. Emanuel will be sworn in on May 16 and said he will appoint his new education team that day. The final meeting of the current Chicago Board of Education will be on April 27, with the first meeting of Emanuel's Board being on May 25 if the current Board calendar is followed.Apparently Rahm Emanuel’s most compelling reason for choosing Jean-Claude Brizard for the new Chicago Public Schools CEO was that he “increased the graduation rate.”

In fact, Brizard claims that there has been a 12% increase in three years in the graduation rate under his tenure.

The problem is, people in Rochester don’t think he did it.

Not just regular folks, not just angry teachers, not just disgruntled parents.

No, Brizard’s claim has even been called into question by his predecessor, former Interim Superintendent of the Rochester schools, Dr. William Cala.

Here’s what Dr. Cala had to say about the graduation rates, in a series of e-mails with Brizard which were obtained by a Rochester reporter using the Freedom of Information Act:

"Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Brizard had nothing to do with a 12 point graduation increase. Here are the facts. In 2007 the graduation results were announced by SED for 2006 graduates at 39%. In 2008 the results for the 2007 year were announced at 51%. 2008 was Brizard’s first year. The 12% increase came before he stepped in the door. The real facts are that graduation rates dipped below 51% during his tenure, thus actually losing ground."

The 2010 state report card for Rochester shows a 46% high school graduation rate for the federal NCLB accountability figure. The same figure for CPS is 71.8% (report card p. 31, far right column.)

[For those who cannot access the hotlink above, the URL for the Rochester state report card is:]

Brizard started the Rochester job in 2008. The state report card for that year shows a graduation rate of 49%.

It’s at least clear that Brizard is no miracle worker. Let's hope he's also not a fake. 


April 19, 2011 at 10:24 AM

By: john kugler

mayor favorite

In Chicago the rulers always need a patsy. Sounds like this guys fits the bill: breaks his own contract, discriminates against staff and makes up statistics. Think about the last few CPS leaders: Vallas, Duncan and Huberman. They all have the same traits as this new guy.

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