Any accord stemming out of what was in the end a consensus education bill in Springfield is rapidly diminishing in Chicago. Representatives from the Chicago Teachers Union said this afternoon they are dismayed with how Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel went about choosing the next chief executive of Chicago Public Schools and expressed concern with some of the educational policies the CEO pick, Jean-Claude Brizard, supports. Emanuel, said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, seems to be setting CTU up "as a straw man, to set himself up as a crusading reformer." Sharkey added the incoming mayor cannot "dictate" the terms of educational policy in Chicago.
Here's a clip of Sharkey at a CTU press conference, criticizing Brizard's position on merit pay and several other school policies (he mentions some of the other appointments to the Chicago Board of Education as well):
Sharkey said CTU didn't get to weigh in on the CEO process and only heard about the mayor-elect's choice shortly before a press release went out today. He didn't name a specific person the CTU would have preferred but said, "If we were allowed to have a discussion, we'd like to see an educator from Chicago."
The teachers union is on record advocating for an elected school board and for a superintendent (rather than a CEO) to head the schools. CTU's Jackson Potter and others hit on those themes. "What we've seen for far too long at CPS is a lack of democratic accountability ... Communities are not consulted. Teachers are not advising that process. And that needs to stop," he said.
"[P]arents in Chicago are tired of poor leadership. We're tired of CEOs who don't listen to us," said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the group Parents United for Responsible Education. "And mostly, we're tired of our schools and our children being used as laboratories for rich corporate philanthropists."
In addition to appointing Brizard and several other top CPS leadership spots, Emanuel announced seven new members of the Chicago Board of Education. The new board president is David Vitale, who was chief administrative officer during Arne Duncan's tenure at CPS and is presently the board chair of the Academy of Urban School Leadership; Jesse Ruiz, an attorney and chair of the Illinois State Board of Education; and Penny Pritzker, who served as President Obama's finance chair in 2008 and is a prominent charter school backer.