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Brizard: No ‘educational apartheid’ at Chicago Public Schools

Jean-Claude Brizard | Sun-Times Library

Jean-Claude Brizard | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: March 28, 2012 8:10AM

Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard hit back hard from the pulpit Sunday against charges from the Rev. Jesse Jackson that his administration was engaging in “educational apartheid.”

“Ninety percent of our kids are black and brown,” Brizard said after his speech at the Apostolic Church of God. “Ninety percent of our resources go to children who are black and brown. How can that be ‘educational apartheid?’ ”

Jackson, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and other members of a panel Saturday blasted “vast inequities” in the public schools they said favored white schools over black ones. They also charged more black teachers lost their jobs in school closings than white teachers.

Brizard said Sunday both charges were false.

Two of the schools the board voted to close last week, Dyett and Crane, were among the 25 best-funded in the city, Brizard said.

“We look at the achievement attached to that,” Brizard said. “No one can say that money is the solution. These schools have been resourced appropriately. We have not gotten a return on the investment. Our kids are not getting what they need.”

Union members and other critics say the resources put into “turn-around” schools built on the ashes of those the board closes should instead be spent on improving the failing schools.

Brizard said during the 3½ hours that parents and community activists addressed the board Wednesday, most of them pleading with board members not to close or reconstitute 17 schools, he never heard any of them mention students.

“Not once at the board meeting did I hear anyone talk about children,” Brizard said. “I kept hearing about adults. I kept hearing, ‘Don’t close my school. Don’t do anything.”

Not one mention of children?

“I don’t remember hearing that,” Brizard said. “I kept hearing other kinds of things about ‘Don’t displace people.’ Parents came in and said ‘Fix the schools.’ ”

Actually, some of the speakers said, video shows the speakers mentioned children over and over again and some students themselves spoke, arguing the closings would not help them.

Pastor Bishop Byron Brazier signaled his support for Brizard and Mayor Emanuel’s aggressive approach to closing or drastically changing under-performing schools.

“You can take a position to complain, or you can take a position to support. I’m going to support him. He’s not a politician, so I can say that,” Brazier said. What we have cannot remain, cannot say the same.”

“Amen!” some parishioners shouted.

“I know that change can be uncomfortable, but continued failure is unconscionable,” Brizard told worshippers.

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