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Editorial: Pedro Martinez’s ascent to CPS boss was ‘historic.’ But here’s how he can make our schools better.

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As San Antonio’s schools superintendent, new Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez stood up to Greg Abbott, Texas’ Republican governor.

Even as deaths and hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 soared in the Lone Star State, Abbott issued an indefensibly daft executive order banning public bodies from imposing mask and vaccination mandates. Martinez and his school district ignored Abbott’s order, and in doing so, made the health, safety and education of students paramount.

“He is a staunch advocate for children, defying a foolish ban on masks in public schools,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday, as she announced Martinez as her pick to run CPS. “Pedro has stood squarely on the side of the children in his school district to protect them from this horrible pandemic.”

Advocacy for children is Priority No. 1 for any schools superintendent, so Martinez’s defiance of Abbott’s recklessness earns him high marks. His ascent marks a milestone for CPS — the native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, becomes the first Latino to be named the district’s CEO outside of an interim capacity.

He moves from a district of 48,000 students to one with more than 340,000 — the third largest school system in the country. He inherits a district reeling from years of fiscal mismanagement, declining enrollment, and a Chicago Teachers Union that routinely puts its politics above the welfare of this city’s kids. Oh yes, and a pandemic that continues to confound the process of educating children.

Martinez knows all about CPS’ existential challenges. Before San Antonio, he served as chief financial officer for then-CPS CEO Arne Duncan, overseeing a budget of $5 billion. He’s also a highly........

© Chicago Tribune

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