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Jean-Claude Brizard—CEO of the public schools—was leaving after only 17 months on the job.
What followed was your typical brew of Orwellian propaganda from the mayor's press office, in which Mayor Rahm managed to thank Brizard while blaming him for everything that's gone wrong.
Just call him Mayor Cutthroat. Hauls in Brizard from halfway across the country, props him up as the second coming of John Dewey, makes like they're best buddies, and refers to him by nickname—J.C.
Then kicks his ass out the door when things get rough.
Well, allow me to say this on behalf of Mr. Brizard . . .
Whatever's wrong with the system, don't blame him. The problem is not the CEOs Mayor Emanuel brings in to implement his policy. The problem is the policy he brings them in to implement.
Brizard was a classic front man. Paid $250,000 a year to put a genial face on the stuff stupid Mayor Rahm came up with. Like, oh, let's just run through a few of the mayor’s greatest educational hits . . .
Needlessly picks a fight with the head of the teachers' union in a heavily union town.
Increases the school day without doling out the money to do anything meaningful with the extra time. Call it Mayor Rahm's stare-at-the-wall curriculum.
Doubles down by telling protesting parents that he—not they—knows what's best for their children. So shut up already!
Closes schools in black communities without listening to the folks who live there. Then he doubles down on that mistake by bring in busloads of paid protestors—"wake up, everybody!"—to defend the closings.
Airs the infamous "hey, girl" radio commercials where two actresses playing parents badmouth the union. In one fell swoop, he pisses off the teachers while making parents look like nitwits.
Adds at least three new accountability tests to the curriculum—as if kids aren't already tested to death—thus filling up the extra time with mindless activity. On second thought, maybe they'd be better off staring at the walls.
Finally, his masterpiece: the first teachers' strike in 25 years.
Through it all, J.C. amiably went along, smiling for the cameras—right up till the time the mayor dumped him and brought in Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
Don't feel too bad for Brizard. According to the papers, he's got 14 months' pay guaranteed on his contract. So now we're paying him close to $300,000 to not be our CEO. While we're paying Byrd-Bennett $250,000 to be our CEO.
No matter how broke the schools may or may not be, there's always a little something extra for the CEOs.
The mayor officially introduced Byrd-Bennett at a Friday press conference. Slathered her with praise, billing her as the second coming of Maria Montessori. He even gave her a nickname—B-3.
Uh-oh, a dreaded nickname. My advice to Byrd-Bennett—get yourself a good contract lawyer and make sure he or she very carefully reads the fine print.