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Schools on the Line

Chicago schools chief talks with WBEZ callers

It’s back to school time in Chicago, and for most families that means new teachers, and new classes. But this year, it also means the beginning of a new era in school leadership.

As Mayor Emanuel’s education team embarks on its first full school year, the challenges they face are many.  How we tackle those and many other issues will shape the future of Chicago’s youth – and the city as a whole – for years to come.

To explore these challenges, WBEZ launched a new monthly call-in program, Schools on the Line, with the head of the Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard.  Click on the play button below to hear the entire audio from our first episode.

Hereafter, be sure to join us on the first Thursday of each month at 7pm.  And if you have questions you'd like to submit in advance, call us at 312.948.4886. Email us at, or tweet at @AskBrizard. 

Excerpts and highlights from our first broadcast are provided below:

Brizard responding to question on longer school days

"Bottom line is that when you look at the school day in Chicago compared to New York, or Houston or Boston, we have the shortest school day, school year of the big systems in the country." 

—Jean-Claude Brizard

Brizard on class size

"We have kept class size constant despite the massive shortfall in the budget that we've experienced for this school year."
—Jean-Claude Brizard

Brizard on student exhibitions

"We're looking at multiple factors to raise schools. In a mockup for a school progress report. You see us talking about that. We're working with a consortium at the University of Chicago to push these other essentials beyond test scores."
—Jean-Claude Brizard

Brizard on getting parents involved

"You're going to see the announcement of [a cabinet-level position for family engagement] come on board... to create the kinds of entry points for parents that we know we need to do.  To give them real access to our schools."
—Jean-Claude Brizard

Brizard on accountability for performance

There are seven pages of accountabilities in my contract for this job.  We've done the same for my direct reports and we're doing the same for principals and the school chiefs.
—Jean-Claude Brizard

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