Praise for San Diego Unified schools chief Cindy Marten poured in after her nomination to a federal education post was announced Monday.
Mayor Todd Gloria called it “a great pick” by President-elect Joe Biden for deputy education secretary, saying: “I’m excited that San Diego will be at the table in the new administration.”
Current and former school board members were unified in support of Marten as were a variety of business and education groups.
Even a former student chimed in.
“Cindy Marten was my second-grade teacher,” tweeted Jacob Reed. “She is a wonderful, thoughtful, and inclusive person and a fierce advocate of disability rights.”
But the NAACP’s San Diego chapter and community activist Tasha Williamson, the former mayor candidate, issued bruising statements opposing the Marten nomination.
Katrina Hasan Hamilton, the local NAACP’s education chair, said: “Educators at all levels must have a track record of dismantling the harmful practices of Anti-Black Racism that occur in schools. Cindy Marten has a historical pattern of allowing the excessive suspension and expulsion of Black students in San Diego.”
Addressing Biden, Hamilton continued: “With all of the qualified educators we have in our nation, this is not a good choice for healing Black students, families and educators, nor is it a step in the right direction for repairing harm in our schools.”
In a Facebook post Monday morning, Williamson said Biden couldn’t have made a worse choice than Marten.
“She has committed so many atrocities against children, parents and staff!” Williamson said. “I think everyone impacted should write a letter to Washington and send it to me to be provided in a packet with others!”
Marten, she said, “is horrible and continued the legacy of racism.”
On a Zoom news conference, school board president Richard Barrera was asked his response to Williamson.
He said: “What we’ve seen today is an outpouring of support for Cindy’s nomination and particularly for her work in advancing equity from her time as a principal at Central Elementary and in this district. That’s the only response I’ll have.”
(The news conference was held before the NAACP registered its opposition.)
Another national group was enthusiastic for Marten.
Michael Casserly, executive director of Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, said: “Cindy Marten will be the perfect complement to Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona. Both have been school-level leaders and thoroughly understand the complexities of public education at the state and local levels like few other leadership teams in the department’s history.”
He said Marten has boosted graduation rates and developed a reputation for excellence, collaboration and fairness among stakeholders.
“[She] has led the school systems to be among the fastest improving urban school systems in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” he said in a statement.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the former San Diego school board president being elevated to California secretary of state, called Marten “a great voice for our students and educators. Thank you for your equity work, spanning 31 years in education.”
Big congratulations to San Diego’s own, @BeKindDreamBig on your nomination as deputy education secretary. Cindy Marten will be a great voice for our students and educators. Thank you for your equity work, spanning 31 years in education, including 17 years in the classroom.
— Asm. Shirley Weber (@AsmShirleyWeber) January 18, 2021
In her own message Monday, Marten said she had already spoken with Education Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona, “and I have never been more optimistic about the future of the American education system.”
In a note to district families, she said she shared excerpts from a poem — “Continue” — by Maya Angelou “that I have turned to many times during the current crisis for inspiration.”
“I encourage you to read the poem with your family today, of all days, as we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Marten said.
Some early reaction included comments from San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and former school board member John Lee Evans:
— Summer Stephan (@SummerStephan) January 18, 2021
Biden’s appointment of Cindy Marten as Deputy Secretary of Education is a brilliant choice for our nation’s public school students. In 2021 Biden sees in her amazing leadership for students what we saw when we appointed her SD Superintendent in 2013. https://t.co/43N3QHJ2CL
— John Lee Evans (@JohnLeeEvansSD) January 18, 2021
State schools chief Tony Thurmond, who chose Marten for a superintendents advisory board, called it “a great day for California and our nation, and I am proud to call you a colleague and friend.”
Congratulations to @BeKindDreamBig, who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of students, inspiring countless educators, and championing equity. A great day for California and our nation, and I am proud to call you a colleague and friend. https://t.co/gre2InnS4a
— Tony Thurmond (@TonyThurmond) January 18, 2021
UC San Diego (where she earned her master’s degree) and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce added their congrats.
— UC San Diego (@UCSanDiego) January 18, 2021
— San Diego Chamber (@SDChamber) January 18, 2021
On Facebook, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer posted his own congratulations, saying: “Marten has always had such a big heart and worked tirelessly for San Diego. Very happy for you, Cindy.”
Congratulations to my friend Superintendent Cindy Marten for being nominated as the next Deputy Secretary of Education…
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher added his attagirl: “I first saw Cindy Marten’s passion and commitment more than a decade ago as principal of Central Elementary in City Heights. Now the whole nation will see it too!”
I first saw Cindy Marten’s passion and commitment more than a decade ago as principal of Central Elementary in City…
Congratulations SUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten on your nomination for Deputy Secretary of Education. https://t.co/AqmIT0zUqQ
— Management Association of the Sweetwater Union HSD (@MASD_SUHSD) January 18, 2021
Congratulations to our VEBA Co-Chair Cindy Marten on this incredible opportunity. Thank you for your continued leadership in education! The future is looking bright! https://t.co/PkSqrhNKLi
— California Schools VEBA (@CAschoolsVEBA) January 18, 2021
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, executive director of the San Diego Continuing Education Foundation, called Marten a “teacher’s teacher who knows how to lead with authenticity and compassion.”
Cindy Marten named Deputy Secretary of Education! Yahoo! Children are always first with Cindy. She’s a teacher’s teacher who knows how to lead with authenticity and compassion. Now the country will know what San Diego knows for sure! @BeKindDreamBig #CindyMarten
— Laurie Coskey (@RabbiLaurieSD) January 18, 2021
Congratulations to longtime American Heart Association volunteer/champion Cindy Marten on being nominated to the post of deputy secretary in the US Department of Education @BeKindDreamBighttps://t.co/ijZCFjHbSS
— AHA California (@AHACalifornia) January 18, 2021
Congratulations to Superintendent Cindy Marten! She is a highly respected and compassionate leader for students’ health and equity. https://t.co/J66PGrEgE8
— LetsSleepCA (@letssleep_CA) January 18, 2021
Our CEO Yehudi Gaffen, I have worked with @sdschools Cindy Marten @BeKindDreamBig for more than 30 yrs. She has done amazing things for education in #SanDiego. She’s brilliant, kind, and a fantastic leader. Our kids will be in good hands! Congratulations!https://t.co/umC8BvDMDq
— Gafcon, Inc. (@Gafcon_Inc) January 18, 2021
Another former student checked in:
Cindy Marten taught me how to read and write when she was a Literacy Specialist at Los Pen Elementary School. I was in 3rd grade and just moved to the US from the Philippines. Very cool to hear that she’ll be a part of the Biden-Harris admin!
— Ivy (@YOitzIvy) January 19, 2021
But Williamson and the NAACP aren’t Marten’s only critics.
Cindy Marten, superintendent who provided “racial healing” training to teachers, abolished grades and doesn’t have a single school open for in-person learning is nominated for Deputy Secretary of Ed. Nearly half of all SDUSD students are below std in math and English.
— Shannon Thompson (@Shandiego216) January 18, 2021
FYI San Diego’s Cindy Marten has taken a hard line against school reopenings until public health measures are in place https://t.co/MyxLkkURwZ
— Jennifer Berkshire (@BisforBerkshire) January 18, 2021
Cindy Marten is not qualified. They should have checked with people of color in SD before doing this. Makes me question all of his other choices and I love Joe.
— Anna T Jimenez (@tachcojimenez) January 18, 2021
If Harris-Biden plan is to institutionalize CRT and racism in our education system, then they nominated the right person????
Time to support vouchers. https://t.co/xGaN4sAn7f
— Doc Stuart (@doc_stuart) January 18, 2021
Someone at the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights forgot to update Cindy Marten’s file with the correct # of discrimination & special education complaints! Don’t worry I’ve collated some info here for you @usedgov @SenFeinstein @NAACP @willhuntsberry @sdschools
— ????Wise Society (@ChristinaLast3r) January 18, 2021
San Diego Unified is the school district that recently changed its grading system (lowered standards) to “combat racism”.
President-elect Biden nominates San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten for deputy secretary in Department of Education https://t.co/vsKouxh99d
— Muratsuchi’s Conscience
???????? (@MuratsuchiC) January 18, 2021
UH oh, what do you mean Cindy Marten is Biden’s Deputy Sec of Education? SHE IS A HORRIBLE PERSON and everyone in San Diego HATES HER!
— Enchanted Seashells ???? ???? #January20 (@EnchantedCshel) January 19, 2021