Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first year in office was a rocky one for Chicago Public Schools. As it wrapped up, schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard used a citywide meeting of Community Action Councils to outline his year-one highlights. Catalyst Chicago’s timeline of the first year of Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school leadership is below.

Before he came to Chicago, Brizard said, friends told him the district was a hodge-podge of reforms. To make sense of it all, he’s ventured into the community to listen to teachers, principals and parents.

Brizard touted the new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools where students can attend for six years and graduate with associate degrees. In addition, the district is opening more International Baccalaureate programs.   “Why is this important?” he says. “Rigor aligns with college persistence. It makes a huge, huge difference.”

He counts his top accomplishment as planning the district’s “fuller” school day, and also pointed to the development of a new teacher evaluation system.

In a fact sheet, CPS notes that the district has revamped its school progress reports and has developed new scorecards for principals that will be used to award bonuses.

The district has also approved 12 new charter school campuses, taken steps to equalize funding between charter and neighborhood schools, created five parent support centers, and put a community outreach position in every school network office.

Brizard ended his speech by referencing the ongoing contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. Pointing to his two-year-old son in the audience, Brizard said, “All he wants to do is learn to read and write. A strike does not serve anyone.” 

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