Pedro Martinez talks next steps at CPS: A.D. Q&A podcast

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Martinez’ hope is—by the winter holiday season—to have all diverse learners on transportation routes. He’s also rethinking how to design the transportation system beyond COVID. More broadly, “I’m making sure that our team is learning the lessons that need to be learned so that we can avoid or minimize them for next year.” 

He’s also looking at missteps at sister agencies like the Chicago Park District, which is in the middle of a sexual abuse scandal only years after CPS went through its own. “I’m not happy with the way things are. As a parent myself, the last thing I want our parents to be worried about is issues around adults taking advantage of our children,” he says. He’d like to see tighter reporting requirements, for one, and abusers imprisoned. “I’m old-fashioned. I just believe the way you do it is you put people in jail. You send the message around that this is not going to be tolerated. Are our laws, our procedures and processes set up for that? And if they’re not, that’s going to be one of my top priorities to change.”

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More broadly, Martinez wants to bring some of the changes he made in the San Antonio school district home to Chicago, stanching the outflow of families from CPS—or the city entirely—by diving deep into the data. Declining birthrates that he first flagged in 2003 aren’t accelerating. The biggest driver of enrollment decline, he says, is what kind of programming CPS is offering—and where. 

“What I’m seeing more is a lot more movement of families, and it varies by neighborhood. Why is there such a variance by neighborhood? What are the programmatic offerings by neighborhood? How is that driving families, potentially, away? For example, do we have—in every neighborhood—high-quality offerings in their neighborhood?” 

One consequence of setting up such solid magnet programs at CPS in the early 2000s might have been attracting kids away from their local schools. Martinez says schools like Kenwood, Amundsen and Simeon are full or over capacity—with some principals fretting about students fibbing about their address to get in. Meanwhile, enrollment continues to drop at underutilized schools nearby. Martinez sees an opportunity to create new school models in those underutilized buildings, similar to what he did in San Antonio. “I love creating new school models . . . I know how to do it, I know how to do it well.” 

In this episode, Martinez talks about why he believes his new boss Lori Lightfoot gets a bad rap, his hopes for a continued rejiggering of the new elected school board to shrink its size, and more.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

November 9, 2021 at 03:17PM

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