Biden nominates Marten to be deputy secretary of U.S. Education Department

The San Diego Unified School District Superintendent and former classroom teacher would work with new Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
By: | January 20, 2021
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President Joe Biden has named Cindy Marten as his nominee for deputy secretary of the U.S. Education Department.

The San Diego (Calif.) Unified School District superintendent’s nomination follows the nomination of Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona for education secretary. Marten, who worked 17 years as a classroom teacher, has also served as a literacy specialist and school-level administrator over her career spanning more than 30 years. She has served as district superintendent since 2013.

As deputy secretary, Marten would assist the education secretary in carrying out his duties and responsibilities, serving as acting secretary in his absence. She would also help develop and implement policies, programs, and activities in elementary and secondary education.

While reports have indicated Cardona’s support for keeping students in school buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Marten has reportedly gotten pushback for sustaining hybrid and remote instructional models in San Diego Unified School District.

Marten has also been criticized as being less attentive to racial and poverty issues in education. NAACP San Diego Branch Education Chair Katrina Hasan Hamilton, in a Jan. 18 letter addressing President-elect Biden, commended Marten’s efforts at instituting some anti-racist policies but condemned her as a poor choice for repairing harms to Black students in schools on a national stage.

“Educators at all levels must have a track record of dismantling the harmful practices of anti-Black racism that occur in schools,” wrote Hamilton. “Cindy Marten has a historical pattern of allowing the excessive suspension and expulsion of Black students in San Diego.”

“With her 31 years’ experience in education, including 17 years in the classroom, Cindy Marten will be a voice for our students and educators as deputy education secretary,” stated National Educators Association President Becky Pringle, who tweeted the congratulatory statement soon after the announcement Jan. 18.

San Diego Education Association President Kisha Borden also endorsed Marten’s nomination.

“We believe she will be an invaluable voice for students and educators within the Biden Administration, with experience in the needs of diverse districts likes ours,” stated Borden.

The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs is eager to have a champion of public education in the position, according to the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs President Mahogany Taylor.

“As superintendent, Ms. Marten has made it a priority to work with parents and families and understands that collaboration between schools and families is critical to student success,” said Taylor. “Throughout her tenure, she has strived to close the education gap for minority students, English learners, and students with disabilities. I have no doubt that Ms. Marten will continue to work toward these goals and beyond as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education.”

See also:
· Education experts, legislators say Cardona would bring hope, experience to top education post
· 117th Congress likely to see more activity on education policy, funding
· DeVos resignation not expected to have adverse effects during transition

For more stories and guidance on this topic, see the Presidential Transition Roundup.

Johnny Jackson covers special education issues for LRP Publications.

January 20, 2021

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