COVID-19, poor facilities, houseless student and family engagement, and at least seven vacancies in senior CPS leadership positions are among issues that Pedro Martinez must face as he steps into new role.

CHICAGO, September 15, 2021The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement regarding today’s appointment of Pedro Martinez as Chicago Public Schools CEO — the district’s ninth in the past 11 years:

It is no secret that Chicago Public Schools is in a state of turmoil right now, with one charter campus shut down due to COVID-19, nearly 6,000 students in quarantine, and lagging behind on its program for COVID-19 testing of students and staff. Add to this, issues with transportation, special education and poor communication from Central Office to individual school communities, and it is clear that Mr. Martinez has a tall task ahead of him from day one.

The goal of our union remains unchanged — to collaborate in legitimate good faith in reaching a safety agreement with the district that respects the humanity of each and every person in our school buildings. Mr. Martinez returns to a different Chicago than the city he left in 2009, as we move toward an elected school board and embrace the return of full bargaining rights for teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, clinicians, case managers and librarians.

Families, students and community organizations are empowered leaders now, and have rejected the charter proliferation, the mass firing of Black female teachers, weakened worker protections and top-down decision-making that were hallmarks of his time under former CPS CEO Arne Duncan.

Many of the failed strategies that our new CEO is accustomed to no longer exist in Chicago, as the experiments of education reform and privatization have proven to be a failure. Equity, justice and democracy, and student, parent and educator voice, are now at the forefront. Despite having no classroom or in-school experience, Mr. Martinez will have to be an independent thinker, a far better partner and collaborator than Mayor Lightfoot, and work with stakeholders to keep them safe, earn their trust and meet high expectations.

Students, educators and school communities have worked hard to create a new vision for our district, and for public education, and do not want a return to the economic and racial inequities of the Paul Vallas-Arne Duncan era. As is the case with previous new CPS CEOs, we hope Mr. Martinez respects and embraces the hard work and sacrifice that teachers, clinicians, paraprofessionals, counselors and librarians bring to their school communities every day. He should meet with educators, hear concerns, and make CPS families and school communities public and active participants in the governance of their district.

Their district.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.