CTU support grows, poll shows... Brizard already heading towards another vote of 'No Confidence' like he had in Rochester, while Rahm's relentless media control craziness is crashing daily into the reality of Chicago's streets and schools

Less than a year after he left Rochester, New York, in disgrace, with federal age discrimination cases still trailing him, Rahm Emanuel's pick to become "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools is once again in trouble with everyone outside the plutocracy and a handful of well subsidized politicians. Brizard was out of Rochester following a vote of "no confidence" by the city's teachers and widespread anger at his superintendency from Rochester's parents, students, and community leaders. Yet despite his clear record, Brizard got the nod of those who matter — Chicago's plutocracy and Chicago's plutocratic multi-millionaire mayor — and arrived in the Windy City in a blizzard of hype and Power Point nonsense.

Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most loyal followers have heard the Rahm Show so many times that they catch a nap while the script is repeated. Above, Alderman Matt O'Shea (19th Ward, left) and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale (third from left) both catch their 40 winks while Rahm goes over his Longer School Day script at Disney II magnet school on April 10, 2012. Only Rahm's most servile minion, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard, must appear enraptured with Rahm's readings as they go around Chicago trying to spin the latest pirouette of policy. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Only eleven months after he appeared at his first carefully staged Rahm Emanuel media event (posing with Penny Pritzker and the mayor at Kelly High School), Chicago Schools "Chief Executive Officer" is facing a similar fate in Chicago. Despite desperate attempts by both CPS and City Hall media people to ruthlessly control the message from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and from Brizard himself, the negatives for both Brizard and Emanuel grow, while support for the city's teachers and their union grows as well. Clearly, a year-long campaign against the teachers' union that began even before Emanuel's May 2011 inauguration has failed, and the controversial appointment of Brizard, whose only support seemed to be from the city's corporate elite and the Broad Foundation, has failed, as has the Brizard leadership team at CPS.

The recent departure of two of Brizard's initial appointees has underscored what more and more critics are calling "government by management musical chairs" at CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. The bizarre style exhibited in private by Brizard and at least one of his chief aides ("Chief Education Officer" Noemi Donoso, who was imported to Chicago from Colorado, becoming the first CEdO who had absolutely no Chicago teaching or principal experience) has also caused growing concern among the few remaining veteran teachers and administrators working in the system's central office. Principals, meanwhile, are being forced to revised plan after plan as the inexperienced central office team brought in by Brizard continues to ignore all of the major details required to run a real school in real time in the real Chicago. Part of the concern comes from the unreality that emanates from the system's top administrators, who seem to believe that Power Point presentations and dubious "data" sets are a substitute for actual leadership. "Sim School is not an option on the South Side when the Disciples are outside," one principal who asked to remain anonymous told Substance. The feeling is echoed by many.

Despite all of the attacks by Chicago's mayor and his media supporters (led by the suburban editors of the Chicago Tribune), the city's teachers are receiving widespread support.

Rahm Emanuel can't show schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard the exit less than a year after Emanuel followed the recommendation of the Broad Foundation and Chicago's plutocracy and salvaged Brizard's career as a schools executive by announcing the appointment in April 2011, just as Brizard was about to be run out of town in Rochester, New York, his previous school superintendency. The chaos caused by Brizard and the Broad Foundation in CPS administration since May 2011, when Brizard and the seven members of Emanuel's hand-picked Board of Education, has been slowly leaking into the city's corporate media, despite a huge number of press flacks working overtime from both City Hall and CPS to spin the mayor's version of events. Brizard's administration is in such chaos less than one year into it that "dysfunctional" becomes an understatement. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Chicago Teachers Union on April 24, 2012 released the results of the latest polling it is doing which showed growing support for the union's positions for better schools, despite the ongoing media offensive against the city's teachers and the union by CPS officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The following is from an April 24 news release from the union:

NEWS RELEASE. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin. (312) 329-6250 (desk) (312) 890-0866 (cell),

Poll Shows Strong Support for Public School Teachers in Their Fight for Quality Schools. Public lacks confidence in CEO Brizard and Chicago Board of Ed

CHICAGO - A recent survey of likely voters in Chicago reveals strong public support for the city’s public school teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Their popularity is cast in high relief against the Board—and intense—disfavor that voters have toward the Board of Education and the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Compounding the problems for the Board and Brizard, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s image is now in decline as well, with voters especially critical of his handling of education. Consequently, Chicago public school teachers and their union are uniquely positioned to champion reforms that not only enjoy broad public support but benefit public schoolchildren as well.

• Nearly three-quarters of Chicago voters have a favorable impression of Chicago public school teachers (74% favorable, 35% very favorable), and a solid majority of voters also holds positive opinions of the Chicago Teachers Union (57% favorable, 29% very favorable). Just 15% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of teachers and 26% have an unfavorable opinion of the union.

• In contrast, voters are highly critical of the Board of Education and CEO of Public Schools Jean-Claude Brizard. By two-to-one margins, voters rate the jobs being done by the Board of Education (27% excellent/good to 62% just fair/poor) and Brizard (21% excellent/good to 44% just fair/poor) negatively.

· While polling from the summer of 2011 showed Rahm Emanuel fairly well regarded by the city’s voters, the mayor’s image has suffered in the intervening months. Emanuel’s personal favorability has dropped since last summer and his unfavorable ratings have jumped 11 points.[1] The deterioration in Emanuel’s image is most pronounced, however, in his job performance ratings. In August of 2011, 53% of voters thought he was doing a good or excellent job and 31% thought he was doing just a fair or poor job. Today, Emanuel’s job performance rating is evenly divided, with negative evaluations of his handling of the job surging by 16 points: 47% excellent/good to 47% just fair/poor. Hinting at one of the causes of this precipitous decline, perceptions of the mayor’s performance on education are even worse than his overall ratings (44% excellent/good to 46% just fair/poor).

The notion of education reform is not a contentious issue for the vast majority of Chicago voters, as 82% consider reform either extremely or very important. However, not all reform is viewed the same and the shape that reform takes has the ability to alienate the mayor, CEO Brizard, and the Board of Education even further.

· At the outset, the electorate rejects the mayor’s proposal to close, consolidate, and phase out chronically underperforming schools: 41% favor to 47% oppose. Simulating an engaged debate over the issue quickly vaults the union’s position to an even more decisive lead (31% favor to 59% oppose).


(SOME PEOPLE/OTHER PEOPLE) say the plan to close, merge, or phase out chronically underperforming schools is long overdue and is the least we can do to ensure that every child in Chicago gets a quality education. This plan is necessary to help prepare students for the challenges of a 21st century economy. It’s time to stop protecting poorly performing teachers and schools.

(SOME PEOPLE/OTHER PEOPLE) say class sizes of Chicago schools are already larger than those in 95% of school districts across the state. Consolidating and closing schools will only lead to more overcrowding, a higher teacher-to-student ratio, and will make it harder for children to learn and for teachers to give children the individualized attention they need. 31% agree

59% agree

Voters also side with the Chicago Teachers Union on the issue of merit pay, opposing basing a teacher’s salary on state test scores by a net of 10 points. Given voters’ support for public school teachers and their union, it is perhaps not surprising that many voters are willing to countenance a teachers’ strike over the Chicago Board of Education’s decision last year to cancel the 4% cost-of-living increases in teachers’ contracts while lengthening the school day and year (which together would have come out to a more than 25% pay cut). Fully 36% would support a strike, and another quarter of voters (26%) are unsure. The percentage supporting a strike is within the margin of error of the 39% who would oppose a strike.

Bottom Line: Chicago voters hold their public school teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union in very high regard, their popularity contrasting sharply with the disdain voters show toward the Board of Education and the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Moreover, the mayor appears to be paying a price for his close ties to the Board and Brizard and their antagonism of Chicago public school teachers.


[1] Lake Research Partners. N=723 General Election voters in Chicago, including oversamples of 100 Latino voters and 20 parents. August 1st through August 7th, 2011. Margin of error: +/- 3.6%.

For 75 Years the Chicago Teachers Union has been in the forefront of strengthening public education in Chicago. The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at


April 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM

By: Rodney L. Pruitt

Displaced Teachers

For two years I have said that CPS has no intention to rehire displaced teachers. It has fallen on deaf ears as the media is still on a "honeymoon" with Mayor Emmanuel. With the current federal court decision, The intentions of CPS have been upheld. Our displacement was simply a pay cut. While CTU was bargaining for pay raises, it should have fought for job security. Its efforts has been "smoke and mirrors". Long ago CTU decided to cut its losses and address the influential minority of membership who wants pay raises at any cost. Now, one must wonder if anything outside of a strike will enable CTU to dig itself out of the political hole that it has dug. The displaced, laid off, and "honorably terminated" were simply worth sacrificing for political gain. Now one must wonder whether the CTU leadership can survive another term.

April 25, 2012 at 10:29 PM

By: Danny van Over

Anger misplaced

While I understand the anger and frustration of teachers who have been "displaced" through no fault of their own, I am nonplussed when I hear such teachers direct their anger and frustrations at their Union, rather than the Board of Education.

The Union has fought for displaced teachers. They sued in federal court and won two decisions before the Illinois Supreme Court weighed in. While many believe that was a bad decision, it nevertheless influenced the federal appellate court.

Chicago's teachers--and their Union--are being attacked on all fronts. (In fact, it's not just Chicago, but nationwide.) Our opponents have marshaled considerable resources in the war on us, and that includes the complicity of the mainstream media.

The leadership of the CTU is doing the best it can in light of these attacks from all sides.

"Long ago CTU decided to cut its losses and address the influential minority of membership who wants pay raises at any cost."

Not sure just what you mean by that. The Union is fighting both for job security and better wages and benefits and better working conditions and better schools. And we're doing so because teachers and PSRPs want all those things.

If you're talking about the decision two years ago to turn down Huberman's offer of a 4% contractual pay raise to save jobs (without any guarantee), then you are quite mistaken about just who was in the minority. Internal polling showed that the overwhelming majority of the membership approved of declining Huberman's offer.

The Union is not your enemy. We all make up the Union. It is the Mayor and his appointed board of education that should be the object of your anger and frustrations.

April 27, 2012 at 7:04 PM

By: John Kugler

Rate Brizard's job performance

rate job performance of

Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools

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