Mayor Lori Lightfoot named Pedro Martinez as the new Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools. The announcement came Wednesday afternoon at a press conference held by Lightfoot and CPS officials.
Martinez was the district’s former chief financial officer from 2003 until 2009 under former CPS CEO Arne Duncan. Martinez is a graduate of CPS and the mayor announced Martinez as her choice for CEO at his alma mater Benito Juarez.
Lightfoot spoke on Martinez’s experience in leading larger districts saying, “Throughout the entirety of our search for CPS’s next CEO, we remained laser-focused on selecting a candidate that not only has expertise overseeing a public school system as large and diverse as Chicago’s but shares the lived experiences of our students and their families.”
Lightfoot went on to say that she believed he would be “a great leader for CPS” and continued by saying the city is “confident that he will continue our school district’s long, proud history of driving student excellence in an equitable and inclusive way.”
Martinez spoke about his family migrating to the U.S. and commented on his return to Chicago saying “It all started here”. He went on to speak about his commitment as CEO saying, “I will make a commitment that I will make sure that I listen to my teachers. That we listen to our parents. We know that right now we are fighting this pandemic so we gotta give ourselves some grace.”
Martinez recently made headlines by going against the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, when he ordered masks for all students and staff in the San Antonio Independent School District. He also required all employees to get fully vaccinated. Mayor Lightfoot applauded Martinez’s actions during her announcement for his defiance against a “wrongheaded and dangerous” mask ban.
Martinez has served as school superintendent in San Antonio Texas since 2015. He will be CPS’s first Latinx CEO. Martinez will take over as CEO replacing former CPS CEO Janice Jackson. Jackson stepped down at the end of her contract in June after serving only three years. Jose Torres has served as interim CEO since Jackson’s departure.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.