Chicago Public Schools Engages with Parents and Community Stakeholders

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez at Clissold Elementary School. PHOTO PROVIDED BY CPS.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez at Clissold Elementary School. PHOTO PROVIDED BY CPS.

 Chicago Public Schools Engages with Parents and Community Stakeholders

By Tia Carol Jones

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez has been in the role since September 2021. Martinez said things with CPS are feeling very strong and the school year started off very smoothly. The district ended the last school year very positively.  While, the district continues to see significant need, with homeless students or more students with Individualized Education Program (IEP)s, the morale is very strong.

CPS recently hosted a series of five community engagement briefings on the State of the District. The goal of the briefings was to share with the community results from 2022-2023 school year. During those briefings it was shared that 87 percent of the schools made gains in reading, 73 percent made gains in math. The district also has the strongest academic gains for elementary schools it has had since 2016.

For high schools, there was a record graduation rate, as well as a record amount of scholarships --$2 billion – which Martinez said beat last year’s record of $1.5 billion. College enrollment and college persistence for 2022 was also very strong. The class of 2023 earned more than 125,000 college credits.

“Even with the gains, and we’re very proud that all of our student groups, gained including our Black students, our Latinx students, we still have significant gaps. Those gaps existed well before I came to this role, well before the pandemic,” Martinez said.
Chicago Public Schools wanted to start the conversation about its intentions, which includes working with the community to address longstanding opportunity gaps and other issues. Martinez believes that there are some foundational components and investments the district has made, and they are a good start.

Martinez grew up in Chicago and attended CPS in the 1970s and 1980s. Now to be in the role of CPS CEO, he acknowledges how the lack of investment in communities is reflected in those communities’ schools. He wants to build a better plan with the community, because he sees the potential throughout the district.

Martinez spoke about Percy L. Julian High School and George Henry Corliss High School. He said Julian is getting really strong and other schools in that area are starting to see real promise, especially once key investments are made. At Corliss, students are receiving their Associates Degree. He highlighted one student who received his license to fly drones and received an Associates Degree.

“We’re seeing a lot of promise across some of our schools, mostly on the South side and the West side, where we’ve seen the biggest growth. At the same time, we know we have some way to go,” he said.

Chicago Public Schools has increased opportunities for students to get college credit. Martinez said there has been an increase in the number of Black male students who are getting at least a semester of college credit. CPS has partnered with community colleges to provide teachers who can provide college credit. CPS also has a partnership, with Chicago State University and other colleges and as well community colleges, to offer college courses.

Martinez wants to be more aggressive. He wants the numbers of students who take college courses while they are CPS students to grow. In the Class of 2023, there were about 5,000 students who took at least one college course.

Martinez wants to have more conversations with parents and community stakeholders in January. He wants to inform the community with where CPS is academically, the successes and gaps, as well as where the district is with its current resources. The goal is for CPS to work with the community, with the unions and with the City of Chicago on a bold legislative agenda around protecting and increasing resources.

On Monday, Nov. 6th, the CPS Budget Office began hosting a series of community roundtable discussions. The first was at Sullivan High School, others took place at Clemente and Tilden. On Thursday, Nov. 16th, there will be a virtual meeting. The goal of those discussions is to inform parents and the community about current investments.

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