Is Rahm Emanuel A Republican?

April/29/2011 16:03PM
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Rahm Emanuel named Jean-Claude Brizard as the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Brizard, the former superintendent of Rochester, NY, schools put the students first. Did I get that right? Yes, puts the students first. He is the sheriff Joe Arpaio of education. Sheriff Joe has always put the public first. By doing that, he gets re elected. Regardless of other politicians or the media, he gets attacked by them, but, approved by the voters.

Brizard’s record in Rochester is admirable. The union hates him, the teachers hate him, the school board hates him, but he has gotten the job done.

He raised the graduation rate to 51%, from 39%, doubled the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, decreased suspensions by 66%, carved %$51 million out of the budget, and launched a 10-year, $1.2 billion modernization plan. He tied teacher pay to test scores and supervisor evaluations. He started several charter schools.

Is this the real Rahm Emanuel? Will he risk political capital by naming a man to a big job who will create chaos like we’ve never seen in the Chicago school system? Here’s Arne Duncan’s claim to fame as Obama’s highly touted Secretary of Education. Here’s what Arne left behind.

There is budget deficit of $720 million. Over 80% of the city’s schools failed to meet federal testing targets this year. The contract with the teacher’s union is up in 2012. Chicago students lag urban students in the country in science proficiency.

Basically, it’s a mess. A legacy of the Daley tenet of pander to the unions and bury the problems.

Mr. Brizard will go after the unions. He will demand pay for performance. He will force job security to be tied to test performance. He will cut costs and try to balance the budget. He will make things better. In the process, he will make everyone angry, except the parents of students who have been tolerating poor education. He will make friends in the business community. They need better educated workers. The teachers will give Brizard the same low approval rating he had with teachers in Rochester. The few who approve of him will be doing a good job and will benefit from his plan.

I must admit, I found it hard to believe Emanuel would take this risk. It is a courageous move, and changes my whole perspective of Rahm. Based on this, he may be the best thing that ever happened to Chicago.

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