CHICAGO — The former head of the second-largest school district in Illinois has been named the new interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
Veteran educator Dr. José Torres will take over for Dr. Janice Jackson when she steps down as Chicago Public Schools CEO at the end of the month.
Torres was the superintendent of Elgin-based District U-46, a majority Latino district. More recently he served as president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora.
“We are grateful and lucky to have someone of his depth and experience to be serving as the interim CEO,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
Pending approval from the Board of Education, Torres will take the job July 1.
Having just retired, the mayor insists Torres will not be a candidate for the full time job. But Torres laid out his agenda during the press conference.
“First, to work closely with our stakeholders, our parents and educators our partners in ensuring that we have in-person learning five days a week come the fall,” said Torres. “Race, zip code, social economic status should not really predict the future but in our society it has. But it should not. I think education is key. It’s the key to a great city and a great city creates investments in education.”
Torres said the district will focus on lost learning during the pandemic, especially students who’ve fallen behind.
This week, the Illinois House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill the Senate approved creating a 21 member elected Chicago school board. Mayor Lightfoot strongly opposes the measure.
She says she’s worried about the cost of the school board elections and participation from CPS parents.
“A lot of the conversation that’s been had over the course of this last legislative session is about dividing up the spoils of CPS, it’s about power,” Lightfoot said. “It’s about paying back somebody’s political patron. But it’s not been centered around our children, that’s telling but it’s also frightening.”
The Chicago Teachers Union said they look forward to a collaborative relationship with Torres.
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