A Latino will be the next CEO of Chicago Public Schools
Pedro Martinez has been tasked by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to lead the third-largest school district in the United States.
The next CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is a Latino by the name of Pedro Martinez.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially named him to the role on Wednesday, Sept. 15, which he will officially step into at the end of the month.
Martinez will become the first Latino in the city’s history to permanently hold the position in a full-time capacity, as he replaces Interim CEO Dr. José Torres, who took over for former CEO Janice Jackson after she stepped down.
During her announcement, Lightfoot highlighted Martinez’s distinction as the first Latino CEO of CPS as “a true value add to our entire city.”
Martinez will be the city’s seventh school CEO in the last 10 years, a decade which has seen two teacher strikes, a pandemic, a budget crisis and declining enrollment.
Chicago is the third-largest school district in the country, only behind New York City and Los Angeles, and has among the highest Latino/Hispanic student demographics.
Hispanics make up about 46.7% of Chicago Public School students, according to the Office of School Quality Measurement.
Despite the challenges the Chicago Public Schools has seen over the past decade, it has also seen academic improvements, resulting in an increased graduation rate and standardized test scores outpacing most other big cities.
“Education is the best equalizer in society, and I will work every day to strengthen our public schools for generations to come,” said Martinez.
Prior to taking on this new role, Martinez had been superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District since 2015, another city with a prominent Latino population battling economic disparities and declining enrollment.
During his tenure in San Antonio, he helped launch the district’s first network of Centers for Applied Science and Technology, and started a number of dual-language programs.
He’s held a number of additional roles in education throughout his career, including Superintendent in Residence for the Nevada Department of Education and Superintendent of Schools for Washoe County School District in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada.
Martinez also spent six years as chief financial officer of Chicago Public Schools.
This marks another return to the “Windy City.”
Martinez was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, but his family moved to the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago when he was five.
A product of the Chicago Public School system, Martinez is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — the first in his family to graduate from a university.
In a 2015 essay published in the San Antonio Report, Martinez wrote, “I know firsthand the power that education has in changing the trajectory of someone’s life.”
The oldest of 10 children, Martinez has three sisters who teach within Chicago Public Schools and many nieces and nephews who are current students across the city.
When talking about his decision to return to Chi-Town to take on his new role as CEO of Public Schools, Martinez said: “It’s where I grew up; it’s where I went to school... It really launched my pathway to becoming a superintendent.”
“It’s very personal to me… because it is my hometown, it was something I needed to explore,” he added.