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The [Friday] Papers

"Education and business leaders have told Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard that he'll be blamed by the mayor for the city ending up on the brink of a teachers strike and he may be on his way out, a high-ranking education source told the Tribune," the paper reports.

"Several sources said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is frustrated with Brizard and could let him go - potentially as soon as a contract agreement with teachers is reached."

I started hearing from sources last spring that Brizard wouldn't last the year. To put it bluntly, he's been a disaster - though his boss the mayor deserves a fair share of the blame.

"This week, for the first time, it became clear to me that Brizard has to go," ace education newsletter writer Seth Lavin wrote in June. (He has since given up Chicago Schools Wonks.)

I thought a month ago that the big CPS leadership shake-up proved Rahm's disgust but that he had no choice but to keep Brizard around. Firing him in the first year would look too clumsy politically. The last month has changed my view. It's like Brizard's on another planet. Keeping him is actually worse, not just for the district but also for Rahm, than the pain of amputating him. It's insane that we've arrived here. For Rahm, firing Brizard essentially means raising a white flag on his entire first year of school reform. Yet that's actually become a less damaging alternative than the charade of acting like Brizard's relevant or speaks for CPS. I can't believe I'm saying this but it's the middle of the night and I've reached a point of clarity. Get rid of him. Do it soon. Mark it - I predict that one way or the other Brizard's gone in 12 months.

Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton denied to the Tribune that Brizard is on his way out.

"That couldn't be further from the truth, the mayor has complete confidence in J.C.," she wrote in an e-mail.

Brizard, too, issued a statement - a bizarre one given the question at hand.

"I am a systems thinker, and I have a very hands-on approach to leading the district," Brizard wrote. "I remain focused on my work with the children of our city."

Okay, then.

"Brizard's management style was criticized by the Chicago Board of Education in his annual evaluation, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune. The board gave Brizard low marks for the way he communicates and runs the district."

Which is what the teachers union and other administration critics have been saying. That puts Brizard in a box - alone.

"Brizard's introduction to Chicago foreshadowed some of the minefields that lay ahead. On the same day the mayor named Brizard, Emanuel unveiled a hand-picked cabinet for his new CEO. Since then, Brizard has been unable to escape questions about who is setting the education agenda.

"Supporters of the schools chief say he's been handcuffed by an administration intent on micromanaging. Brizard also has been increasingly isolated at district headquarters, several central office employees said."

Indeed, Rahm Emanuel is currently holding at least three jobs: mayor, schools superintendent, and police chief. Brizard deserves the criticism but right now is holding just one job: Fall guy.

Strike One
"One big stumbling block in negotiations is teacher recall," the Tribune editorial board writes. "The union wants teachers who are laid off to be first in line for new jobs. Principals would not be free to hire the best teachers they can find. How does that serve students? It does not."

Is that the case, or would the district hire the cheapest, most inexperienced teachers who would serve kids the worst? You'd think the Tribune editorial board would have some knowledge of this odd phenomena, given that it's been happening in America's newsrooms for years now.

Strike Two
"The Chicago Public Schools has asked the Illinois High School Association for permission to hold practices and allow students to participate in sporting events [should] teachers begin their strike Sept. 10," the Tribune reports.

Science teachers are also asking that they allowed to still hold classes.

Strike Three
The Tribune reaches all the way out to Maryland to find a commentator asking that Rahm Emanuel crush the teachers union like a bug.

But just who is Sean Kennedy and what is the Maryland Public Policy Institute where he is a visiting fellow?

Kennedy is a bit of a mystery, but the institute claims on one hand to be non-partisan but on the other "the state's leading conservative free-market policy organization."

Really, Tribune? Is this the best you can do?

Model Misbehavior
"After reviewing DNA tests, prosecutors say they are dismissing charges against a man who has been in prison since 1997 for a murder that occurred during a home invasion on the South Side," the Tribune reports.

"Alprentiss Nash, 37, was sentenced to 80 years for the death of Lion Stroud. According to prosecutors, Nash was wearing a black ski mask when he broke into Stroud's home in 1995. The mask was found near the crime scene, they said."

The Sun-Times thinks this makes Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez a hero - and her office "A Model For Justice."

"All too often in the past, prosecutors have fought to preserve convictions at all costs, even in cases of extreme doubt. Alvarez's office is to be commended for taking a different approach.

"In recent years, awareness has grown of the alarming problem of wrongful convictions. In February, Alvarez set up the new unit to re-examine old cases where justice might have gone off the rails. The Nash case is the first one in which the unit's work helped to overturn a conviction."


From the Tribune:

"Cook County prosecutors opposed Nash's request for DNA testing on the ski mask, but the Illinois Appellate Court later ordered it. Testing was done on skin cells found on the mask, and the genetic profile was matched to an inmate who recently was paroled from prison after serving time for a drug conviction."

The Sun-Times says Alvarez's office did more extensive DNA testing than the defense asked for, but I think it's pretty safe to say that was done in an effort to show Nash was guilty, not as a model of justice.

Standard Standards
"Struggling retail chain Sears Holdings is getting knocked off the Standard & Poor's 500 index," AP reports.

Now they'll just be on the Poor Index.


Too easy?

GOP Convention Notebook 4
Romney, Clint & Rezko.

Franchise Agreement
Our Town Sports: Lame, Lamer & Lamest.

Underground Talent
A documentary about Chicago subway performers.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Perhaps the lamest.

Off The Grid In 1979
Update, please!

From Chicago to Boston.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Standards and poor.


Posted on August 31, 2012

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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