Chicago (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot named San Antonio schools superintendent Pedro Martinez as the next Chicago Public Schools CEO, becoming the first Latino to run the city’s school district.
Martinez, a Mexican immigrant who grew up in Pilsen and graduated from Benito Juarez High School, said she was excited to be returning home to her “dream job.”
Martinez served as CPS’ chief financial officer under former CEO Arne Duncan from 2003 to 2009. He’s been running the San Antonio school district for the past six years. He is the first Latino to serve as the permanent CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
The Chicago Teachers Syndicate criticized Martinez’s election as the next president of the CPS, noting that he had no education degree and no teaching experience, but Lightfoot stood behind his choice.
“I chose someone who I think is an excellent leader and has a successful track record,” he said.
Lightfoot said that during his time in San Antonio, Martinez helped raise the district’s grade from F to B, achieve a 100% increase in student admissions to four-year universities, and achieve the highest attainment of any district. 2019. The San Antonio area was also named the fastest growing large area in Texas in 2018.
“You can’t do that without a talented leader,” the mayor said.
He also commended Martinez for defying Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “stupid public school mask ban” by mandating that all students and staff in this district wear masks in schools this year and that all staff be fully vaccinated by October 15.
“He’s a staunch advocate of children, as he has shown recently,” said Lightfoot.
Martinez has pledged to prioritize safety in schools in the city as students return to classrooms full-time amid the pandemic and still await approval of vaccines for children under 12.
“I will make sure I listen to my teachers, listen to our families,” Martinez said. “I know the potential of our children, I know that when we partner with our families and teachers and the wonderful community organizations here in the city of Chicago, it’s just a wealth of them and leadership throughout our city. I know what is possible for our children. I know our children can reach their full potential.”
Martinez replaces former CEO Janice Jackson, Who left at the end of June, when the contract expires. Former Elgin-based District U-46 chief Jose Torres has since served as interim CPS chief.
Jackson himself was a CPS graduate, also a former CPS teacher, principal, administrator, and chief education officer.
“Dr. Janice Jackson has raised the bar of excellence for CEOs. When our school district is led by someone who represents excellence and has similar experiences to the students they serve every day, not only does it ensure that the unique needs of students are met, but also to them, their parents, and Lightfoot, their guardians. and that our entire CPS community can move into leadership positions and thrive.