A great number of changes need to be made in order to improve Chicago Public Schools:
The incoming CEO of Chicago Public Schools is not Superman, but Jean Claude Brizard said that Chicago can be saved from failing schools, if everybody is in.
“Its important to listen to kids, teachers, anyone who wants to come in and implement change right away,” Brizard said. “Not listening and talking to people would be making a big mistake."
Brizard said that change would mean taking a step back and analyzing, build from there.
He’s hoping for some fundamental changes from Illinois lawmakers, and that the pending legislation will give CPS the tools for improvement,
Brizard said Illinois should “go back to core values and decide where to invest dollars.”
There is some debate about just how much credit he can claim for positive change in Rochester, New York, where he's run public schools for the past three years. But Brizard stands by his record there.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, where he also started teaching, Brizard said he knows about the fear factor in some schools - and it does not scare him.
“We've been watching the violence in Chicago for along time, many of us in education,” Brizard said. “When you watch young men get beaten up like that, it was heartbreaking.”
But Brizard will handle first things first: tone. He said without proper tone, teachers cannot teach, and kids cannot learn. Children must be given structure in order to succeed.
“I speak the language of teaching,” Brizard said. “I’m also a reformer, so I'm unabashed about pushing what needs to be pushed. But I can walk into a classroom and know what good teaching looks like.”
He went on to say that if teachers are given the tools to be successful and they still cannot seem to get the job done, then perhaps they are in the wrong profession.
“That goes for principals, CEOs, everyone,” Brizard said. “This is about the kids. If we can't do the job, then we shouldn't have the job.”
Brizard’s parents were both teachers in their native Haiti, which they had to flee during the brutal reign of former dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier.
He said their journey gave him great passion for service.
Future Superintendent Brizard is in Chicago looking for a new home with his wife and young son, whom he plans to send to a public school.
Brizard should officially be on the job May 25.