San Diego Unified School District
cindy marten

San Diego superintendent nominated to be Deputy U.S. Education Secretary

Jan. 18, 2021
Cindy Marten has led California's 2nd-largest district since 2013.

The superintendent of the San Diego (Calif.) district has been nominated to be Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that President-elect Joe Biden has picked Cindy Marten for the position.

Marten, who has led California’s second-largest school district since 2013, would serve in the post under Miguel Cardona, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education.

Marten will remain superintendent until she is confirmed by the Senate, which district officials expect may happen in February. The San Diego School Board has chosen Area Superintendent Lamont Jackson to serve as interim superintendent once Marten moves on to her new position.

In choosing Marten, Biden cited San Diego’s graduation rate and reading growth on national standardized tests, saying both exceed those of other large school districts.

Biden also highlighted Marten’s 17 years as a classroom teacher and her 10 years working as principal at Central Elementary in City Heights, where she helped build a biliteracy program, an arts program, a school garden, preschool and after-school programs, a daycare for employees’ children and a community health and wellness center.

Before working at Central, Marten worked in Poway Unified as a teacher and literacy specialist, and as a teacher at Beth Israel Day School.

Some strategies San Diego Unified used to improve schools include expanding arts programs, focusing on literacy instruction and using data and feedback to improve teaching and student learning, Marten has said.

Under her leadership San Diego Unified won approval of a $3.5 billion bond program to pay for technology and large-scale upgrades to schools.

The district also has carried out several racial equity reforms, including changing the way students are graded to be less punitive, requiring “restorative” rather than punitive discipline, and creating an ethnic studies requirement for high school graduation.

Marten’s term has not been without controversy. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic San Diego Unified has remained closed to regular in-person instruction out of caution and has been providing in-person support to a few students, generating anger among parents who say children are falling behind and suffering emotionally.

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