Emanuel defends new schools CEO

Jean-Claude Brizard already under fire for grad numbers, being "anti-teacher."

April 21, 2011

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Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is defending his pick to lead the public schools. Jean-Claude Brizard is coming under fire here for his record as superintendent in Rochester, New York.

After Brizard proposed closing schools and instituting merit pay in Rochester, and after contract talks there stalled, teachers gave him a vote of no confidence.

Talking to reporters in Rochester Wednesday about his record, Brizard said that vote - and the way it has branded him - has been painful.

"In fact [the vote] gave me more resolve to try and prove I am not anti-teacher. My parents were teachers, I’m a teacher. My wife’s a teacher....One of my colleagues across the country said, 'You know you’re being painted as anti-teacher'—that was very hurtful. I am not."

Asked about his record in Rochester, Brizard pointed to gains in the graduation rate.

"We’re talking about 11 points in three years," he said.

Those numbers are now coming under scrutiny. New York state report card data show Rochester’s graduation rate has declined while Brizard was at the helm.

Emanuel defended Brizard Wednesday, saying he chose someone to shake up the status quo.

Unfiltered audio from Wednesday's press conference:

Graduation Rates in Rochester, New York

Report Card Year (rates are for the prior school year)Graduation Rate
2010-1146%
2009-1052%
2008-0949%
2007-0858%
2006-0751%

Source: New York State District Report Card for Rochester City School District. Graduation rates reported are those used for accountability under No Child Left Behind. Brizard became superintendent in Rochester in January 2008.