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Nevada educator makes pitch to head Boston schools

Pedro Martinez, now with the Nevada Department of Education and a finalist for superintendent of Boston schools, spoke to a panel at English High on Thursday.
Pedro Martinez, now with the Nevada Department of Education and a finalist for superintendent of Boston schools, spoke to a panel at English High on Thursday.Sean Proctor/Globe Staff

The last of four finalists vying to lead Boston’s school district took his turn in the rotation of public forums Thursday. Pedro Martinez, a former Reno superintendent now working with the Nevada Department of Education, interviewed with School Committee members, families, school faculty, and staff and representatives from community organizations. Highlights of his comments:

On closing gaps in achievement between students of different racial and economic groups:

“For us in Nevada, it was about changing the expectations for children. . . . If they’re not prepared in 11th and 12th grade, we’re doing a disservice to our children.”

On testing:

“We need to be data driven.”

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On the challenges facing Boston public schools:

“One of the things that I feel is lacking is a very clear, coherent vision that people have embraced. . . . I’m very concerned about your staff morale.”

On teaching children who live in poverty and who come from other countries:

“They tend to be very quiet and very compliant. . . . We want teachers to be facilitators of knowledge, and children to be more engaged and more active in their learning.”

The three other finalists appeared before the public earlier this week: On Monday, Guadalupe Guerrero, deputy superintendent of instruction, innovation, and social justice for the San Francisco Unified School District; on Tuesday, Tommy Chang, local instructional superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District; and on Wednesday, Dana Bedden, superintendent of Richmond, Va., public schools.

The School Committee, in consultation with Mayor Martin J. Walsh, is expected to choose the winning candidate March 3.

About Pedro Martinez

Professional: Superintendent-in-residence advising Nevada’s superintendent of instruction and the governor’s office on education policies, according to a biography provided by Boston officials. Formerly superintendent of Washoe County, Nev., School District.

Education: Master’s in business administration from DePaul University and a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a graduate of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy.

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Personal: Age 47; wife, Berenice Alejo, a Williams College graduate; two children, ages 4 and 1.

Fun fact: One of 12 children, Martinez is the first to graduate from high school in the family, which emigrated from Mexico when Martinez was 5; has never pitched for the Red Sox.


Nestor Ramos can be reached at nestor.ramos@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @NestorARamos.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect description of Berenice Alejo’s work.