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74 Interview: Meet Pedro Martinez, the San Antonio Superintendent Who Spearheaded One of America’s Most Unique School Integration Experiments

September 24, 2018

When Pedro Martinez took the top job overseeing the San Antonio Independent School District, serving one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of America’s most economically segregated cities, he knew he had to confront the pervasive poverty affecting 93 percent of his student body. So he launched an intricate plan to go block by block in his district, measuring household income, and developing appropriate trauma supports.

Then, with an eye on disrupting this concentration of poverty within his classrooms, he used his block-by-block socioeconomic data to launch one of America’s most radical school integration experiments, balancing different categories of impoverished students with more affluent kids whom he wooed back into the district via innovative school designs.

As his classrooms have become more diverse, and as the waiting lists for his new schools have grown, student achievement has rebounded. As kids have performed better, high school graduation rates have started trending upward.

Here, Martinez tells The 74 more about his background, his vision for his district, and his unique approach to integrating his almost entirely poor and Latino district. Read more about the district’s broader school integration effort, and the staff Martinez recruited to help. (Click right here to read The 74’s special report)

— Video Produced by Heather Martino; Edited by James Fields