By Evan Symon
San Diego United School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Cindy Marten was named by President-elect Joe Biden Monday, as the next United States Deputy Secretary of Education.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and UC San Diego-educated Marten has worked as an educator in some capacity in the San Diego-area since 1989. After beginning as a teacher and literacy specialist in nearby Poway, Marten steadily moved up. In the 90’s, she began a ten-year stint at Central Elementary in the SDUSD system where she began taking a hands on approach at the school, such as introducing a bi-literacy program and adding benefits such as daycare for teachers at the school.
These programs won her several stints as vice principal and principal at other schools in the SDUSD system until 2013. That year, she was chosen as the next Superintendent by a unanimous Board of Education vote. Since then she has run the district, even winning a few awards along the way such as the 2018 San Diego Business Journal Businesswoman of the Year award.
If approved by Congress in the coming months, Marten would serve in the Department of Education directly under incoming Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who was recently elevated by Biden from his Connecticut Commissioner of Education position.
In a statement, the superintendent said that she was honored and would accept the nomination.
“I’m honored by the nomination,” said Marten on Monday. “Therefore, I will be leaving my post as your Superintendent, following confirmation by the United States Senate.
“I have already spoken with Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona, and I have never been more optimistic about the future of the American education system. I have also spoken with the San Diego Unified Board of Education to ensure a seamless transition. Everyone remains focused on providing our students with a full recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Marten proceeded to thank San Diego, students, parents, fellow educators, and other education employees and administrators for getting her to this point.
Criticism of Marten
However, Marten’s selection faced criticism on Monday, with many pointing out that, under her tenure, SDSDU has seen a growing number of schools making the states ‘worst performing school’ list, a rising number of failing students, and has had such a large number of failing minority students that they had to completely overhaul their grading process in a controversial decision that, among other things, will no longer penalize students for missing homework, quizzes, or tests.
“She’s been, I’ll say, controversial, since day one,” noted SDUSD teacher ‘Alice’, who only agreed to a Globe interview under anonymity. “You know she was just picked. There wasn’t even a public search or anything. Some knew of her, but that was about it.
“And she was ok. Not great, but just ok. For every time she stuck up for teachers or started a new beneficial program she also refused to expel dangerous students that put others at severe risk and didn’t fix problems at schools despite many lagging behind. Look up any recap of her tenure, because it’s always a ‘some good, more bad’ kind of situation. She also pushed for better results for minority students and non-English speakers learning English, which is noble and honestly a good thing, but her efforts really just moved them around too much. Why do you think that nearly one out of four minority students was failing or nearly failing under her watch? They had to install the new grading program to cover up her negligence. And they blamed the poor grades partially on racism.
“Many I know are glad that she’s out of San Diego but it’s sort of a catch 22 now that she is one of the top education leaders in the country now.”
Marten is expected to be nominated by the Senate in Washington soon.
Originally published by the California Political Review. Republished with permission.