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MAY 25 CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING... Not with a bang, but with a long, drawn out, nasty whimper... Last Richard M. Daley Chicago Board of Education holds its final meeting, continuing rude treatment of teachers, students and parents — and self-congratulatory back patting and scratching

The big question from the press at the end of the May 25, 2011 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was what Jean Claude Brizard's contract said. The Board of Education wouldn't answer that following its late afternoon adjournment, and Brizard was not publicly available to discuss his plans with reporters as the seven members of the Board left the room for the last time.

Following the final meeting of the seven-member Chicago Board of Education appointed by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on May 25, 2011, the members of the Board greeted incoming Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale (appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel). Left to right: outgoing Board Vice President Clare Munana; Board Attorney Patrick Rocks; outgoing Board member Norman Bobins, outgoing Board President Mary Richardson Lowry, incomiong Board President David Vitale, outgoing Board member Tariq Butt, and outgoing Chief Education Officer Charles Payne. Not in the frame above were outgoing Board members Roxanne Ward, Peggy Davis, and Alberto Carrero. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. But the CPS Communications office was preparing a press release informing the public that Brizard would be paid $250,000 per year (claiming it was comparable to other school districts) and sharing with the press, in written statements, a version of Brizard's vision and a copy of Brizard's first letter to those who work for CPS. (See below: CPS PRESS RELEASE ON BRIZARD; BRIZARD LETTER TO CPS 'COLLEAGUES').

Sixteen years after the epidemic of mayor control of large urban school systems was born in Chicago, the last "Richard M. Daley" iteration of the Chicago Board of Education ended its reign as it had spent most of its years: by mistreating members of the public, pushing through more charter schools and privatization schemes, and patting itself on the back for its selfless devotion to its version of what's best for the "children" of Chicago. The Chicago Board of Education met as usual on May 25, 2011, did most of its business as usual in secret, smiled upon those who praised it and called security on those who disagreed with it, and then left.

The final moments of the seven-member board came at about 5:15 p.m. when Board President Mary Richardson Lowry introduced incoming Board President David Vitale. Mary Richardson Lowry had been appointed by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to succeed former Board President Michael Scott, who committed suicide following the failure of the business investments that he had entered into in anticipation of Chicago landing the 2016 Olympics.

Banker David Vitale was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who continues the tradition of mayoral control into the second decade of the 21st Century, in the face of growing opposition to both mayor control and to the arrogant treatment of the public by the Chicago Board of Education and senior Chicago Public Schools administrative staff.

The last official actions of the Chicago Board of Education that ended its tenure on May 25, 2011, included awarding dozens of contracts without discussion or debate, continuing the expansion of charter schools, and announcing that it was hiring Jean-Claude Brizard as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools. BRIZARD PRESS RELEASE:

Below please find our press release announcing the appointment of the new CPS CEO and a letter from Jean-Claude Brizard to CPS staff.

For more information contact: Ana Vargas, CPS Office of Communications, Phone: 773-553-1614

E-mail:alvargas@cps.k12.il.us, Website: http://www.cps.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2011

Jean-Claude Brizard Appointed as CPS Chief Executive Officer. Brizard to Kick-Off Citywide Listening Tour, Visiting Schools Beginning on Day One

The Chicago Board of Education today appointed Jean-Claude Brizard as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools. His first official day will be Thursday, May 26th. Brizard will embark on a city-wide listening tour during his first few months as CEO, visiting schools to meet with teachers, principals, students and key stakeholders to gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges and issues facing Chicago’s schools.

Most recently, Brizard served as Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester City School District. He also worked as an educator and administrator with the New York City school system for 21 years, where he served as Executive Director for Secondary Schools, Region 8 Instructional Superintendent, and as a high school principal. Brizard began his career as a high school physics teacher and junior high school science teacher.

The Chicago Board of Education voted to appoint Brizard as CEO from May 26 thru June 30th at an annual salary level of $250,000, allowing him to begin his leadership role before a contract is approved by the incoming board in June. This measure allows the incoming board members, who will work closely with Brizard in the coming years, the opportunity to review and decide upon the terms of Brizard’s contract, expected to go into effect on July 1st. The approved salary is on par or less than those of CEOs and superintendents for large urban school districts including New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami-Dade, among others, which range from $250,000-300,000 annually.

“I would like to thank Mayor Emanuel, the Board of Education and CPS staff for generously taking the time to assist me in preparing for this new role,” Brizard said. “I am eager to work from day one to ensure that every dollar we spend, every program that we support and every reform that we make, moves the district forward and benefits our kids.”

Brizard will visit a school nearly everyday until the end of the school year engaging directly with principals, teachers and students. It affords him the opportunity to learn first hand the challenges that schools face and to identify best practices. The school visits are part of a listening tour which aims to engage Chicagoans in a dialog about educational issues. Brizard will spend time in communities across the city, speaking with groups of students, principals, teachers, faith leaders and community organizations as he begins to formulate a plan of action.

“I look forward to listening to parents, teachers, students and community members about their experiences with our school system,” Brizard said. “They need to be a part of the dialogue as we begin to make a lot of difficult choices as a district to ensure that every dollar we invest counts and puts kids first.”

Under his tenure, Brizard aims to set a new tone for the nation’s third-largest school district focused on increasing student achievement. Among his priorities will be to ensure that teachers are supported professionally and that teacher performance is rewarded, empower principals to increase innovations within their schools while holding them accountable for results, and building the strong partnerships with parents that are critical to student success.

“As a community, we all have the same goal: to provide an education for our kids that prepares them for college, work and success throughout their lives,” Brizard added.

Brizard holds a Master's Degree in School Administration & Supervision from The City College of New York, a Master's Degree in Science Education from Queens College, and a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry from Queens College.

The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 409,000 students in more than 670 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.

—30—

UNDATED LETTER FROM JEAN CLAUDE BRIZARD TO CPS STAFF (DISTRIBUTED BY THE CPS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS MAY 25, 2011). Letter from Jean-Claude Brizard to CPS Staff

Dear Colleagues:

During the fall semester of the 1999-2000 school year, I was privileged to meet regularly with a group of seniors in the cafeteria at George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, New York. I was newly appointed as principal of the school, and I wanted their input on how they felt about the education they received. The students were articulate and passionate in their belief that the education they received had not prepared them for the challenges of post-secondary education or entrance into the workforce.

Having been a teacher and assistant principal at the school, I understood their concern, and I was not surprised that they felt ill-prepared for what faced them after graduation. That is when I made a promise to myself and to the students — a promise that led to the creation of a reform and redesign plan that transformed the school into an award-winning Career and Technical Education Learning Community, and a promise that continues to propel my fervent interest in, and attention to, the post-scholastic readiness of all students.

In a speech at the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit in 2008, Sir Michael Barber (former senior advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now at McKinsey and Company) said that “Those who led the Civil Rights movement, whether in Congress, churches, or communities, must surely be devastated by the actual outcomes 40 or 50 years later. We know now that access to school is not enough. It is success in school that matters . . . Equally importantly, though, school reform in this country has never been just a question of economics. From the beginning of the Republic, education was seen as fundamental to building democracy and extending freedom.” I share Sir Barber’s quote because my parents always taught me to see the work of education through a social justice lens. Our civil rights leaders fought for this access and our children deserve no less than full access to economic opportunity.

I believe that this is an exciting time for public education. We face a mountain of challenges but huge opportunities as well. A confluence of political, economic, and societal factors has created a “perfect storm” for real education reform, and we must make the most of it From the White House to the U.S. Department of Education to the mayors and chancellors of most big cities, we have committed leaders who are serious about change. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made education the centerpiece of his administration, and has made it clear that we need bold thinking and participation from every Chicagoan to be successful. Our mayor fully understands that this work is not just about fixing high schools. In his 2011 Transition Plan, he outlines the need to focus comprehensively on children from “birth through a postsecondary credential and into a career guided by a seamless educational system that helps children access opportunities and find lifelong careers.”

I am immensely excited and privileged to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools. It is my responsibility to fulfill the core mission of our district and schools: providing everyone with the support they need to improve student learning, and I am fully committed to that mission. By providing essential leadership to enact a vision for CPS, recruiting and supporting talented people throughout the district, and encouraging and maintaining communication and dialogue between schools and the public, I will serve as a steward of Chicago’s most precious resources—the children we serve each day. I know that you, too, are deeply committed to the success of our children and I sincerely appreciate your leadership on behalf of our students.

Finally, I want to say thank you for being the unsung heroes in our classrooms, driving our buses, feeding our children and keeping them safe, and caring for and leading our schools. The children of Chicago need us to be successful, and we must not fail them. I look forward to working with you.

Yours truly,

Jean-Claude Brizard

Chief Executive Officer

REPORT ON THE BOARD MEETING

As usual, Board President Mary Richardson Lowry began the meeting late, filled more than an hour with filler which could have been done at a second meeting, and, despite the fact that 68 people had signed up to speak (some having arrived at 5:00 a.m.) stalled much of the discussion during the early minutes of "public participation" by engaging in chat with those with whom she agreed, while, as usual, siccing the oversized security team on those who disagreed with her, with the Board members, or with CPS policies. By the end of the afternoon, when the Board members were in some cases moved to tears as their last meeting ended, the hundreds of parents, students, and others who had waited more than half the day to speak to the Board had gone home, and the Board members and senior executives of the school system spent their final hour approving hundreds of millions of dollars in what amount to crony contracts and then departing with hugs and self-congratulatory last words.

Although the Board of Education's meeting was being held on the 5th floor of the downtown headquarters of CPS, more than 170 people were being packed into the so-called "holding room" ten stories above the actual meeting. Every month, the Chicago Board of Education schedules its monthly meeting during what are called "bankers hours," stalls the beginning of the public's participation as long as possible, and reserves most of the seats in the actual meeting room for bureaucrats and functionaries. Parents, students and teachers (above) who show up as early as 5:30 in the morning to sign up to speak are relegated to watching the meetings on closed circuit TV until they are called to speak. The above photograph was taken at eleven o'clock in the morning on May 25, 2011, as Board President Mary Richardson Lowry was stalling public participation with what she calls the "good news" part of the monthly meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. By 10:30, at which time the meeting announcement says "Public Participation" is supposed to begin, the majority of members of the public who had showed up for the Board meeting were housed in the 15th floor "holding room" and watched over by a number of CPS security guards. Meanwhile, nearly half the seats in the Board Chambers on the fifth floor were filled with Board staff and executives. The way this is done is that the Board marks more than 40 seats "reserved" and then fills many of the rest of the seats with staff. The result is always that the majority of parents, teachers and children who take the day off to bring the public's business before the public Board of Education are thwarted.

It's no accident, and the art of keeping the public at bay has been perfected during the 16 years since the Illinois General Assembly gave dictatorial control over Chicago's public schools to Chicago's mayor in 1995 with the passage of the Amendatory Act (amending the previous changes in Chicago school governance from 1988, when Local School Councils were established).

Another way in which the Board of Education manipulates public participation and thwarts critics is "grouping." At the beginning of every Board meeting, the officious Secretary of the Board, Estela Beltran, announces from the microphone that everyone who is signed up to speak (often, having by then waited five or six hours at CPS) on a topic should come forward to be "grouped." Instead of listening to people who come downtown during business hours to participate, the Board makes an additional effort to keep the public's voice mute with "grouping." If two or more people have signed up to speak on a particular topic or from a particular school, Beltran insists that they be "grouped", with no more than two of them allowed to speak.

Board of Education Secretary Estela Beltran (above right, in green jacket) groups speakers who signed up to speak on different topics, trying to ensure that the fewest possible speakers are allowed to go on camera and in front of the Board no matter how important the topic. The Board also deploys some of its largest security guards (as above) inside the Board chambers to be ready on a signal from the Board president to shut off the microphone and force dissidents out of the room. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The speakers are then ruthlessly wrangled by the Board President, Mary Richardson Lowry, who coddles those speaking in favor of policies of the Board and orders security to cut off the microphones for those who disagree. The numerous security people deployed throughout the Board chambers are assigned specific functions: one is to take the microphone from the speaker, in order to shut up the speaker; others are to herd the speaker and any supporters away from the podium and out of the room. One of the main objectives of all of these manipulations is to ensure that most of what goes on the broadcast Cable TV version of the meeting shows only the Happy Talk that has been the standard fare of Chicago Board of Education meetings since 1995, when mayor control began.

Although Illinois law (the Open Meetings Act) requires that the agenda of the Chicago Board of Education be published 48 hours before the meeting, the Chicago Board of Education continues to try and ensure that the public knows as little as possible as late as possible about the public's business. The agenda that is available on line and faxed to media (above) only includes the title of each item to be considered by the Board. The result is that the public gets less than a Cliff's Notes version of the actual business to be conducted. For the May 25, 2011 Board meeting, for example, the publicly available material consisted of nine pages, when the actual agenda (with the complete text of each Board Report, including the costs of each item) ran to more than 200 pages. Board Secretary Estela Baltran has told Substance that it would "take too long" to put the complete agenda on line during the 48 hour period prior to the meeting, but the majority of Illinois school districts do just that, and a Substance check of the time found that it takes less than an hour, using high-speed equipment such as CPS has, to scan and post the complete agenda. The notice of the meeting also claims that "public participation" will begin after the CEO Report, but in fact the Board President usually inserts four or five items between the opening gavel and the beginning of public participation. On May 25, 2011, public participation had barely begun at noon. Another way in which the President of the Chicago Board of Education and the members of the Board cynically thwart most democratic participation is the way in which the Board's agenda is made public. Prior to 1995, the Board of Education had several committees, which met during the month to hear from the public on the public's business. These included committees dealing with everything from instructional policy to facilities and real estate decisions. By 1996, all but one of these committees had been abolished, and instead of meeting on the public's business twice a month, as it did before mayor control, the Chicago Board of Education began meeting only once a month.

Another message about how little democracy means in Chicago comes every month in the way the Board of Education distributes its agenda. There are actually three "agendas" to each meeting of the Board, but the public only has access to the most brief information unless people make the effort to go to the downtown offices of the Board within the 48 hours prior to a Board meeting.

Although Illinois law (the Open Meetings Act) requires that the agenda of the Chicago Board of Education be published 48 hours before the meeting, the Chicago Board of Education continues to try and ensure that the public knows as little as possible as late as possible about the public's business. The agenda that is available on line and faxed to media (above) only includes the title of each item to be considered by the Board. The result is that the public gets less than a Cliff's Notes version of the actual business to be conducted. For the May 25, 2011 Board meeting, for example, the publicly available material consisted of nine pages, when the actual agenda (with the complete text of each Board Report, including the costs of each item) ran to more than 200 pages. Board Secretary Estela Baltran has told Substance that it would "take too long" to put the complete agenda on line during the 48 hour period prior to the meeting, but the majority of Illinois school districts do just that, and a Substance check of the time found that it takes less than an hour, using high-speed equipment such as CPS has, to scan and post the complete agenda. The notice of the meeting also claims that "public participation" will begin after the CEO Report, but in fact the Board President usually inserts four or five items between the opening gavel and the beginning of public participation. On May 25, 2011, public participation had barely begun at noon.



Comments:

May 26, 2011 at 8:16 AM

By: Mary Jane Bunzol

school board meeting

I was at the very long meeting. No sign of Mr. Brizard. Apparently he wanted to start his time here in Chicago like he left Rochester NY - not available. We need him to be AVAILABLE. Remember Rochester is only 10% the size of Chicago, visiting a school every day till the end of the school year is just a drop in the bucket. He needs to start handling things now and not play the run, duck and cover game he played in Rochester.

May 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM

By: Bob Busch

Screwed again on pensions in Springfield

Here comes trouble

If you look at the Illinois Legislative Web Site you will find a strange

Thing happened on the way to Springfield House bill 512 suddenly went

From one paragraph to 274 pages!!! It just passed committee and is on

Its way to the second reading here is it in a nutshell.

Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Articles of the Illinois Pension Code that create the State-funded retirement systems, other than the Judges Article, as well as various Articles affecting employees of Cook County and Chicago, and the Reciprocal Act. Requires current participants in the affected systems to make an election of one of the following: (i) the traditional benefit package under the applicable Article of the Pension Code, (ii) the existing benefit package for new hires, or (iii) a self-managed plan. Authorizes persons who become participants on or after January 1, 2011 to elect either: (i) the benefit package for new hires or (ii) the self-managed plan. Sets forth the requirements for the self-managed plan. Specifies the required employee contributions for persons who make each type of election. In the Chicago Park District Article, provides that beginning January 1, 2012, the fiscal year of the Park Employees' and Retirement Board Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund will run from January 1 to December 31 (instead of July 1 to June 30) and makes corresponding changes in other provisions of the Article. In various Articles affecting employees of Cook County and Chicago, freezes the tax levy rate. Makes changes concerning the required State contributions for the 5 State-funded systems. Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to provide that the changes made by the amendatory Act control when there is a conflict with the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.

I have not read the whole thing but looka like another midnight massacre.

May 26, 2011 at 7:11 PM

By: John Kugler

CPS at it Again

so every year cps says its broke, fires teachers and closes schools but each new ceo gets a raise when hired.

Brizard Officially Begins Top Job, With Pay Raise

He will make $250,000 a year, $15,000 more than he made in Rochester and $20,000 more than his predecessor, Ron Huberman.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-public-schools-ron-huberman-raises-budget-crisis/Content?oid=1661493

Remember the last time this happened

A Raise by Any Other Name

Schools officials say that while top brass are getting paid more than they used to, that doesn't mean they've gotten raises.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-public-schools-ron-huberman-raises-budget-crisis/Content?oid=1661493

June 1, 2011 at 2:14 AM

By: John Kugler

compensation of just over $283,000

Former Chicago Schools CEO Ron Huberman came in No. 9 statewide among superintendents, with a total compensation of just over $283,000. That number represents his total pay with benefits added and six furlough days subtracted from a base salary of $230,000, district officials said.

http://www.suntimes.com/5484550-417/some-illinois-public-school-teachers-earning-six-figure-salaries.html

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