Mayor announces new CPS chief at South Loop Elementary
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Cleveland and Detroit head honcho, takes over immediately
10/12/2012 5:20 PM
After a tumultuous 17 months at the helm of Chicago education, Jean-Claude Brizard is out, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has picked the former head of Cleveland’s public schools to run Chicago Public Schools.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who’s also been a superintendent in New York City and ran Detroit’s public schools, is CPS’s new chief. Emanuel made the formal announcement Friday morning at South Loop Elementary in Dearborn Park.
Byrd-Bennett has been with CPS since this spring, when she took over a leadership role as the district’s interim chief education officer. She allegedly took a prominent role in negotiating the recent teachers’ contract.
In his press conference at South Loop Elementary, Emanuel said Byrd-Bennett didn’t have to step in and take this job with such a rich career behind her.
“Having been a teacher, a principal and an administrator in three other systems, she could have hung up her jersey — but she decided to put it back on,” Emanuel said. “She understands as CEO she’s building a team, and she knows how to work at all levels to achieve that.”
In introducing Byrd-Bennett, he wished Brizard well. They both agreed that his presence had become a distraction from the mission of bettering education in the city, Emanuel said.
“When I talked to JC as recently as this morning, I said ‘You have a lot to be proud of,’” Emanuel said. “I told him, ‘Not only have you done a great job, but you should hold your head up high. I will continue to support you as you work to help children succeed.’”
He already has a nickname for Byrd-Bennett, though: “B-Three.”
“I’m proud to welcome Barbara Byrd-Bennett, known to all of us as B-Three,” he said. “It took us a while — I thought it was a vitamin we had to take at first.”