Brizard: Chicago schools lag behind other cities

August 30, 2011 (CHICAGO)

There was some unease in Brizard's City Club audience when he said that his predecessors and their political boss had misled the public by repeating their mantra that Chicago Public Schools were improving.

"When you look at the entire city as a whole, we are underperforming the rest of the country," said Brizard.

Brizard said while CPS students may have raised their test scores slightly year to year, they annually fell farther behind other big cities.

"The rest of the country, in other words, is moving faster or has been moving faster than we need to move, than we have been moving to actually make sure that every child is college-ready," he said.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who took control of CPS in 1995, called education his number one priority. During the years Brizard says the city was falling behind, Paul Vallas and later Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Education secretary, had Brizard's job at CPS.

"A lot of progress has been made under the leadership of Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan, but clearly more work needs to be done," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.

West Side State Representative Lashawn Ford said he was never fooled by Daley administration education claims.

"Richard M. Daley built this city up and I don't think building up education was his main priority," said Ford.

The new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, took another shot at Daley's handling of public education.

"Over the last decade, if not more, what we discussed on education was really in the interests of adults," said Emanuel.

Brizard announced Tuesday that CPS would use national standards to chart improvement year to year. He also confirmed he will hold a public conversation next month on a stage at UIC with Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis.

"I think it's great for the community to see us talk in public about the need to improve our system," said Brizard.

The Brizard/Lewis conversation is scheduled for the night of September 13th at the Forum at at the University of Illinois Chicago. With so many issues on the table, including a longer school day and denied pay increases, this planned conversation could easily become a debate.

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