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Former teacher, administrator is Emanuel’s new education deputy

A former Chicago Public School teacher-turned-administrator who helped implement Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s signature plan for a longer school day will become the mayor’s top deputy for education.

Arnaldo Rivera, 34, replaces Beth Swanson, who resigned her $154,992-a-year job last week to become vice-president of strategy and programs for the non-profit Joyce Foundation.

Swanson played a pivotal role in negotiating an end to the 2012 teachers strike — Chicago’s first in 25 years. In fact, she replaced Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard at the bargaining table in a move that signaled Emanuel’s subsequent decision to dump Brizard.

Unlike Swanson, who spent much of her career with education-oriented foundations, Rivera earned his stripes in the trenches.

He spent three years teaching first grade at Walt Disney Magnet School, where he still serves on the local school council. Rivera’s wife still works there as a teacher and serves as one of two teacher representatives on the LSC.

After leaving the classroom, Rivera spent nearly six years as a school administrator, serving as a top deputy to both of Emanuel’s handpicked CEO’s: Brizard and Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

According to the mayor’s office, Rivera “led planning and execution outreach strategies” for Emanuel’s longer school day and oversaw the mayor’s prized expansion of International Baccalaureate programs.

Rivera also helped devise logistics for the 50 school closings that so alienated African-American voters who helped put the mayor in office.

Rivera has spent the last year as chief operating officer for the Chicago Public Education Fund. That’s a fund that bankrolls many of the education reforms near and dear to the mayor, including charter schools and teacher training.

A City Hall press release announcing the appointment said Rivera would be responsible for coordinating the mayor’s education policy agenda “from early childhood through the City Colleges,” now implementing a colleges-to-careers overhaul.

“As a former teacher, Arnie understands the critical issues facing Chicago classrooms and will help to further our efforts to ensure every student has access to a high-quality public school education,” the mayor was quoted as saying.

Rivera said he welcomes the new challenge.

“I am excited to be able to positively impact change in the lives of student and families…in this role,” the new deputy was quoted as saying.


Twitter: @fspielman

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