The Rochester Business Journal has officially and very publicly thrown its hat in the ring of support for RCSD Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, issuing what is essentially a ‘fluff’ profile that is long on coddling and dreadfully short on critical analysis. Not that their backing of Brizard and his agenda were a well-kept secret; the RBJ is a publication that focuses on the promotion of local businesses and its leaders, hence the universally favorable light being cast on him by our local business journal.
Would it be too much to ask of our local tabloids to consider circulating a more in-depth examination of Brizard’s motives and methods and of those who are in support of him? This specific press release, nevertheless, is merely another in a long string of articles that presents only one, convenient side, or chapter, of a story that really has many subplots and chapters. By submitting such a lightweight and unswervingly glowing depiction of Brizard – for context, check out the picture of Brizard on the cover of the most recent – March 11, 2011 – RBJ edition, it appears the brand of reform that Brizard is selling to the public has not only received a seal of approval but given an eye-level shelf location. It just seems difficult to comprehend all of the glad-handing that is bestowed upon a set of reform methods that have been empirically and mathematically refuted – including a study performed by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes and its indictment of charter schools’ success rates – with enough documentation to fill the district’s central office building to its rafters.
As for the picture of Brizard on the cover of the most recent RBJ distribution – with Brizard playfully posing in front of RCSD student artwork outside of his office on the second-floor of central office, when was that picture – and the one shown at the beginning of the article on page 10 – actually taken? I highly doubt is was snapped during the art exhibit and open house that took place this past Tuesday on West Broad Street. That is because Brizard did not stick around to personally greet and engross the throng of students, parents and other community members who turned out to take in the works of art produced by the district’s K-12 students. When he left the building around 5:30pm, I overheard him say to a few others that ‘he had to go.’ Of course, it’s possible he had to attend to a pressing personal matter. He has a family, including his wife and two young children. I would not begrudge him that right one bit.
However, his departure before the doors to the central office building officially opened for the art exhibit indicates to me that he was avoiding possible confrontations with displeased parents and students who are upset at the fact that arts and music classes that so many children are now involved with and relishing will not be around next year. At least that was the likelihood as of last Tuesday. However, now it’s entirely possible only a small portion of the music and arts classes will be impacted going into next year. The press releases from the district office seem to change in weight and tone on practically a daily basis, so it’s still almost anybody’s guess as to what is to be the final budgetary and programmatic determination.
If Brizard is truly a man of his word, with him publicly stating that he is, in so many words, a man of the people and a leader of men, then he would have hung around after 6:00pm, which is the time the exhibit officially got underway and the number of people in the building began to swell. It would have been an ideal time for him to honor those who were visually displaying their hard work and creativity, and to address some obvious concerns and respond to any and all inquiries from those who were in attendance. The fact that he did not remain makes me wonder if he genuinely does, in a professional sense, practice what he preaches and reach out to the so called ‘rank and file,’ which is a term Brizard was quoted as saying to describe those who he and his education reformer partners are attempting to reach and win over.
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