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Boot Camp for Education CEO's

The Broad Foundation is working to remake public education in the image of corporate America. How? By training a generation of superintendents to embrace their agenda.

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Brizard claimed that there was no space to reduce class size, but then he offered free space to charter schools.

He dissolved an elected parents' organization and substituted parents handpicked by school principals.

"When teachers expressed opposition to merit pay, that was "noise.' When parents opposed closing schools, he called that "noise,'" says Urbanski.

The conflict heated up. Brizard said his problem was with the union, not with teachers. The union put that to a test, organizing a no-confidence vote by secret ballot. With a turnout of more than 80 percent, the vote went against Brizard by 95 percent.

"Buy-in" in Chicago

The no-confidence vote from Rochester teachers didn't stall Brizard's career. Rahm Emanuel, the newly elected mayor of Chicago, fresh off his gig as Barack Obama's chief of staff, promptly hired him to run the country's third biggest school system.

In Chicago, the mayor currently picks the school board. At their first meeting, which was also Brizard's first meeting, Emanuel's board rescinded a previously bargained 4 percent raise for teachers. The board said they needed to plug a hole in their budget. But the next week, with more than 1,000 teachers protesting outside, the board set salaries for five new top administrators far above those of the administrators they replaced. Brizard got $20,000 more than his predecessor.

In February, Brizard announced plans to close six schools, subject 10 more to disruptive "turnaround," and open 12 new charter schools. The Chicago Teachers Union, together with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and Occupy Chicago, immediately organized angry demonstrations.

"We were never consulted," said CTU President Karen Lewis. "He needs to listen to the community and to the people who do the work." She said Brizard and his team "don't want collaboration. They want "buy-in.'"

In March, Brizard spoke out for vouchers, saying public dollars should follow students when their parents put them in private schools.

And in May, he announced he was applying for a Gates Foundation grant to open 60 more charter schools, which would bring the total to one quarter of Chicago schools.

Meanwhile, in contract bargaining, Brizard's negotiators demanded that Chicago teachers work 20 percent longer for 2 percent raises.

That was the background for Chicago's "impossible" strike vote.

A "Frankenstein Monster" in Oakland

Oakland, California, is probably the only city to have suffered through three Broad chief executives in a row. California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell (to whose election campaign Broad had contributed $100,000) installed one after the other from 2003 to 2009, after he seized control from the elected school board. Oakland was vulnerable to takeover because of a budget gap that was estimated at somewhere from $35 to nearly $100 million—they didn't even know how big it was.

But once in charge, the Oakland Tribune reported, "the state administration appeared to be more focused on redesigning schools and overhauling central office services than on stabilizing the district's finances."

To Sharon Higgins, who was a middle school parent coordinator at the time, the deficit was just an excuse. "They gave our district to the Broad people to try out their ideas," she said. "Their reason for coming here was to alter the district, not to heal the problem that put us in state takeover to start with."

The first Broad administrator, Randy Ward, instituted some changes consistent with Broad's insistence that he's really after improved management. Ward started a new form of budgeting in which each school got a pot of money based on how many students went there. Staff were paid out of that pot, and that had both good and bad results. In the past, schools in the wealthy Oakland hills got the most experienced teachers, who earned higher salaries. So the city spent much more on its wealthy students than its poor students. Ward's new budgeting made spending more equal. But it also gave schools an incentive to hire inexperienced teachers. "Some principals decided to staff their entire schools with newbies," says Steve Weinberg, a middle school teacher, now retired, whose assignment during this period included budgeting for his school.