While San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten testified before Congress on Wednesday for her nomination as Deputy Secretary of Education, local community members held a protest in opposition of the selection.
Roughly two dozen people outside SDUSD headquarters voiced their concerns and shared their own personal experience with the district under Marten’s leadership as they protested her possible ascension to the White House. The San Diegan was nominated in January by President Joe Biden as his choice for Deputy Secretary of Education.
If selected, Marten would play a key role in the U.S. Education Department and would help set policies for major initiatives. The Deputy Secretary would also be next in line to take over the agency if U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona were to leave.
“We use our right to peacefully assemble and petition the government and congress to represent all people, to represent all of us equally, to represent our children – no political maneuvering, no political corruption and we say enough,” said Christina Laster, Director of Policy and Legislation of the National Parents Union.
Members of the National Parents Union and National Action Network were joined by parents, students and local residents for the protest. They say Marten is unfit for a national role.
"I find it very hard to believe that she can be the competent person to lead across the country when she's not done a sufficient job here in San Diego," Reverend Jonathan Moseley of the National Action Network, said.
Richard Barrera, SDUSD’s Board President, noted Marten had the support of NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, and also pointed to policies she championed for to address racial disparities in the district.
“We are always very honest and Cindy is incredibly honest and open about the fact that we’ve got long-standing disparities that are the result of institutional racism, and that’s true in any public school system in any part of the country,” Barrera told NBC 7.
In an effort to address the disparity experienced by Black students and Hispanic and/or Latino students, who have been suspended at a higher rate than their peers, SDUSD adopted a new disciplinary policy in 2017 to focus more on conflict resolution rather than punishment.
“Cindy has been completely honest and transparent since the time she became superintendent for SDUSD’s need to address what has been products of institutionalized racism and she has put practices in place,” Barrera said.” The outcomes are well recognized and well-documented and that’s why civil rights leaders are supporting her.”