State schools superintendent announces retirement

State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala has announced plans to retire at the end of her current contract, which concludes Jan. 31.

Ayala has served as state superintendent since early 2019, shepherding Illinois schools through COVID-19 and overseeing their academic recovery — leading most recently to a decade-high in the state’s graduation rate.

As the capstone of her nearly four-decade career in education, Ayala was the first woman and the first person of color to serve as permanent superintendent for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

“Dr. Ayala represents the highest level of dedication to public service, and over her long career she has positively impacted thousands of Illinois students,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “Not only did Dr. Ayala’s steadfast leadership guide our schools through an unprecedented pandemic, but she also kick-started students’ academic recovery. Under her leadership, we’ve seen significant growth in high school graduation rates and other key educational metrics, a true testament to her hard work and dedication to Illinois students. I’m grateful for her service and wish her and her family all the best for a well-deserved retirement.”

Prior to her appointment as State Superintendent, Ayala served as superintendent of Berwyn North School District, assistant superintendent in Plainfield and Aurora East Districts, and as a classroom teacher in Aurora and in Chicago Public Schools. Ayala provided steadfast leadership for Illinois schools during COVID-19, overseeing an unprecedented shift to virtual and socially distanced learning.