by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
N.C. Sen. Richard Burr plans to support Cindy Marten to serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. That would be a mistake.
Biden supporter Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change laid out a long list of reasons why Sen. Burr and other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee should reject Marten’s nomination. In a recent email to HELP Committee members, Nathan wrote,
I am very concerned about the nomination of Cindy Marten for Deputy Secretary of Education because of issues with these ideals. Notwithstanding verbal assurances from the nominee and her supporters, her actions have been contrary to these ideals. I believe your office has been provided some of the considerable, documented evidence demonstrating a history of deeply disturbing actions during Ms. Marten’s tenure as Superintendent of San Diego Unified School. For example, Ms. Marten
- Failed to protect students from sexual misconduct and cover-ups by educators and sexual acts perpetrated by other students. Rather than act quickly to prevent further harm, the district obstructed students and their parents from learning the truth, suppressed information, and failed to act, resulting in lawsuits.
- Acknowledged after considerable denial, that it pushed hundreds of low performing students into chartered public schools.
- Failed to provide proportionate discipline for African American and Black students, who suffered from much higher rates of suspensions and expulsions for many years. This and Ms. Marten’s prolonged failure to address huge achievement gaps for students of color—including “no evidence of gap closure” since 2003 on the NAEP—resulted in the San Diego branch of the NAACP to oppose her nomination.
- Failed to ensure proper spending of tens of thousands in federal Title I funds at a school with a large majority of students of color; then retaliated against the whistleblower.
- Failed to provide educational services for students with disabilities, forcing families to let their children suffer inequities or sue (90 lawsuits currently pending).
- Failed to provide adequate services to English Language Learners as noted in a state report.
- Failed to respond to public records requests, taught employees how to delete their emails, and received the “Wall Award” from the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for obstructing the public’s right to know.
This is a worrisome record of failure by a school administrator who anti-school choice progressives like Diane Ravitch have embraced.