SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten
SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten in 2017. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten was confirmed Tuesday as the nation’s next deputy education secretary.

The Senate voted 54-44 to confirm Marten, who was nominated for the post earlier this year by the Biden administration.

Once sworn into office, Marten will assume the federal post after more than three decades as an educator in San Diego, including eight years as superintendent of San Diego Unified.

“My message to students has always been, ‘Work hard. Be kind. Dream big,'” Marten said. “The students of San Diego Unified have lived up to that challenge beyond anything I could have imagined as a young principal in City Heights, or even as the superintendent of the second-largest school district in California. National education leaders have recognized the gains our students are making.”

In 2019, San Diego Unified seniors achieved the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California. District elementary students and middle schoolers, that same year, outperformed the average of their peers in both math and reading.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona praised Marten’s confirmation and her work in San Diego during the pandemic.

“I am grateful for today’s confirmation of Cindy Marten as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education,” Cardona said. “As superintendent of the second largest school district in California and one of the longest serving urban school leaders in America, Cindy remained committed to San Diego when the pandemic hit, finding ways to provide technology to thousands of students and provide more than 20 million free meals to students in need.”

Cardona said the department’s focus with Marten’s assistance “is to reopen America’s schools for in-person learning, support students’ social, emotional, and academic needs, and address inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

San Diego Board of Education President Richard Barrera said Marten’s appointment will benefit the nation.

“As a teacher and a principal and a superintendent, Cindy Marten has been a champion for public education in a way that has made San Diego proud,” he said. “As sorry as I am to see Cindy leave San Diego, I know our nation’s students and teachers will benefit.”

Lamont Jackson, San Diego Unified Area superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent through the end of the year until a permanent replacement is found.

A San Diegan by way of Chicago, Marten attended Hardy Elementary and Mann Middle School, then the private La Jolla Country Day School. She launched her education career in San Diego, where she worked as a teacher, literacy specialist, vice principal, principal and superintendent.

Updated at 2:35 p.m., Tuesday, May 11, 2021

City News Service contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.