Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jean-Claude Brizard, Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2007

An overwhelming number of Rochester teachers take a stand against their superintendent.

In a lopsided vote, some educators are telling Jean-Claude Brizard change your ways or change your job.

Nearly 82-percent of eligible teachers took part in today's vote.  The ballot was simple: “Yes, I have confidence in Superintendent Brizard" or "No, I don’t.”

It took hours to sort through boxes of ballots.  Here are the results:  just 140 teachers said they do have confidence in Brizard, compared to the more than 2713 who said they don't.  A vote like this has never happened in the history of the Rochester City School District…

The vote is a symbolic one, not a legal one.  It has no bearing on Brizard's contract or his employment.  But some parents are already saying Brizard should look for a new job.

“He's making it clear that he does not value parents and community members as partners in terms of developing a solution to this crisis,” said RCSD parent Howard Eagle…
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PROPOSED ROCHESTER CHARTER SCHOOL HAS TIES TO JEAN-CLAUDE BRIZARD; November 12, 2010; Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) 
Organizers of a new all-girls charter school aiming to open in 2012 have been busy amassing supporters in the city of Rochester.

But they already have one high-profile local education leader behind their effort — City School District Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, who also happens to be married to one of the new school's would-be founders.

Brizard makes no secret of his support for charter schools, saying that he wants to help more of the privately run programs open in the city school district. Now, K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard could lead one such school, drawing students and state money away from city schools and raising questions about a potential conflict of interest. "We have the vision and the passion and we're working on the application," said Laura Rebell Gross, who is partnering with Stafford-Brizard.

Stafford-Brizard and Gross have been working with the Young Women's Leadership Network, known nationally for opening the first single-sex charter school in the country. Gross also serves on the network's Board of Directors…

Both Jean-Claude Brizard and Gross said they were trying to keep the proposal quiet until the women submitted the application. But word of the proposed school started circulating in the community after they hosted an informational meeting with a number of high-profile community leaders to try to win support for their effort several weeks ago…

The meeting occurred at the Brizards' house after the group went to see Waiting for Superman, a new documentary about the public school system that has been criticized for glorifying charter schools…
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EEOC FINDS BIAS IN OUSTER OF ROCHESTER SCHOOLS OFFICIAL, July 7, 2010, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY)
A federal commission has determined that the Rochester School District discriminated against its former highest-ranking instructional official when it forced her out of her job earlier this year.

Acting on a complaint filed in January by the official, Marilynn Patterson-Grant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the district discharged her “because of her sex, her race and her age,” according to a letter issued by the commission last week.

The findings, which are nonbinding, are the basis for a federal discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday by Patterson-Grant against the district and its superintendent, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Patterson-Grant, a 35-year veteran of the city school system, is of African-American descent and was 57 years old when she was ousted from her position as deputy superintendent by Brizard, who is a black Haitian immigrant. He has said he discharged her because of poor performance...

The EEOC complaint charged that Brizard told Patterson-Grant and other veteran district educators, “You are all old” and “in teaching, age matters,” and implied that Brizard saw veterans as a threat to his authority under a mayoral-controled system.

“You remember that one of the charges made against me was keeping too many of the old guard,” the complaint alleged Brizard said. “(The) people most affected (by mayoral control) will be central office people. The effort will be to get rid of a lot of R.I.P.’s. You know what R.I.P.’s are? Retired in place.”

Brizard has said he does not recall making such statements.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages, although Patterson-Grant’s attorney, Christina Agola, said there was no reason her client could not continue working.

“When you have such a high-ranking administrator making statements that are so plainly, on-their-face discriminatory, it has to be brought to task,” Agola said.
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My daughter came home from Wilson High School one afternoon and told me the new Superintendant, Jean Claude Brizard, had recommended that the students read The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman’s anecdotal tribute to the global expansion of the corporate world. The book is notorious for completely ignoring the structural and geopolitical causes of increasing global poverty. That was the first red flag. The next red flag was at a Parent Council meeting where the superintendent read a passage of a book. The book, written by a former military officer, offered us the advice that schools should be run more like businesses. I thought to myself, “Does he mean AIG, GM or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory?”

On the American Association of School Administrators website Brizard recommends a third book, a business management guide entitled Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. The book was recommended to him by NYC Superintendent Joel Klein who currently is enjoying a 22% approval rating among parents. Brizard comments that the current teacher contract negotiation model is out of line with sound business management.

With Brizard eliminating over 200 teaching positions in the Rochester City Schools it is fair to start asking what his agenda is. We know that Brizard is a Broad Institute Fellow. He has talked publicly about consulting with other Broad (rhymes with “road”) Fellows. What is this Broad Institute and who is Eli Broad?

Billionaire Eli Broad is one of the wealthiest men on the planet. With Bill Gates Broad he funded and launched the Strong American Schools initiative, seeking to move Presidential candidates in the ’08 election to embrace national education standards (enforced with high stakes testing), merit pay and longer school days and years. Sure enough, these issues have been embraced by the Obama administration. The billionaires have put the public schools in their sights and they are pulling the trigger.

In The Corporate Surge Against Public Schools Steven Miller and Jack Gerson outline the corporate agenda for schools and identify the players.

According to Miller and Gerson, “The Broad Institute trains school superintendents, school boards and even union leaders in what they consider ‘appropriate corporate approaches.’ A central problem for corporate privatizers is the issue of governance, i.e. who has legal authority over the schools. Broad favors state take-overs (New Orleans, Washington DC, Oakland, Ca, St. Louis) or mayoral takeovers (Chicago, Pittsburg, attempted last year by Villaregosa in LA) to eliminate messy interference from the public.”

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Mayor Duffy only started to make noises about mayoral control after Brizard came to town…

So far Brizard has followed the Broad management playbook, breaking up Franklin, decentralizing budgets to individual schools, laying off teachers and advocating for a longer school year and mayoral control. How far will Brizard follow Broad’s corporate lead?

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