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Editorial: New CPS chief’s record exaggerated

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

In introducing Jean-Claude Brizard this week as his Chicago schools chief, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel touted Brizard’s record of dramatically increasing graduation rates in Rochester, N.Y.

Too bad it’s not true.

Four-year graduation rates under Brizard’s tenure are basically flat, according to data from Rochester and New York State.

Brizard arrived in Rochester in January 2008. That year, 52 percent of students graduated. The 2010 rate is expected to be 51 percent. The 2011 rates come out next year.

A press release put out by the Rochester schools suggested the rate had gone up significantly. It said just 39 percent of students graduated in 2007, a number Emanuel repeated on Monday. The Rochester school system confirmed late Wednesday that the correct 2007 rate was 48 percent.

Emanuel’s team also noted that graduation rates in New York City, where Brizard worked previously, had jumped 13 percentage points from 2005 to 2009. In 2005-06, Brizard ran the high school division there before spending one year as a regional superintendent overseeing 100 city schools. That jump is remarkable, though we’re sure Brizard would acknowledge that many others had a hand in that achievement.

Brizard has been in Rochester for three short years, not long enough to make major gains, though he has tried. Elementary test scores are up some, and more students are graduating after five or six years of high school than in the past. But Brizard also struck out in a bid to close schools and start merit pay for teachers.

Brizard, then, was just getting started in Rochester. He comes to Chicago with ideas, experience and energy, but let’s not pretend he has worked miracles in Rochester.

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