Mayor Brandon Johnson ‘Looking Forward’ to Continuing Work with CPS CEO Pedro Martinez

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez speaks at Orr Academy High School on June 7, 2023, beside Mayor Brandon Johnson. (WTTW News)Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez speaks at Orr Academy High School on June 7, 2023, beside Mayor Brandon Johnson. (WTTW News)

On the final day of classes for Chicago Public Schools students, Mayor Brandon Johnson again signaled that he may be planning to keep schools chief Pedro Martinez in that position moving forward.

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Speaking at Orr Academy High School on the final day of classes Wednesday, Johnson — a former Chicago Teachers Union organizer and school teacher — indicated he plans to continue working with the current CPS CEO.

“You know, look, me and CEO Martinez have had great conversations,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to what we can do together.”

Martinez was appointed as CPS CEO in 2021 by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and butted heads early on with the Chicago Teachers Union over COVID-19 safety measures inside schools during the pandemic.

But since then, Martinez and the union — which spent more than $2 million to support Johnson’s campaign — have struck a more collaborative tone, with some CTU leaders pointing to a “historic reset” in labor relations between the union and the district.

Martinez on Wednesday added that he’s “excited” for Johnson’s vision.

“I really believe having a champion for education, somebody who knows firsthand what our teachers go through on a daily basis, as the MasterCard commercial says, there’s no price for that,” Martinez said.

Johnson called out Martinez and other education leaders during his inauguration speech last month, saying: “I need you. We can do this together.”

If Martinez remains in his position into next year, he’ll be tasked with negotiating a new labor agreement with the CTU, whose current deal is set to expire in 2024.

During his mayoral campaign, Johnson made clear that he planned to remove at least some of Lightfoot’s high-profile appointees.

That included Police Superintendent David Brown, who left the department on his own after Lightfoot failed to make the April runoff election, and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, though she continues to serve in that role during the first weeks of the Johnson administration.

Johnson on Wednesday also announced that the latest class of CPS high school graduates had earned a record $2 billion in college scholarship dollars.

While this marks a second straight year of record-setting scholarship totals for the district, Johnson said it also represents the first time in CPS history that every single high school graduate reported earning at least some scholarship dollars.

“These achievements demonstrate that our school communities are committed to excellence and high-quality education, and it speaks to the hard work and talent of our principals, teachers, staff, students and of course our families,” Johnson said. “Not only are our students earning scholarships at record-breaking levels, but they are leaving high school with a plan for what comes next.”

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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