03.24.21

Senator Murray Urges Speedy Confirmation for Deputy Education Secretary Nominee Cindy Marten to Help Get Students Safely Back to the Classroom and Address Learning Loss

Senator Murray urged colleagues to support Marten’s nomination and build on the progress of the American Rescue Plan to get students safely back in the classroom as quickly as possible

 

Senator Murray stressed the importance of a fully-staffed Department of Education in order to address the systemic inequities that have been made worse by COVID-19

 

Senator Murray: “It’s clear Superintendent Marten is an excellent choice to help Secretary Cardona, and that as Deputy Secretary of Education, she would be a champion for students.”

  

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues to support the nomination of San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Cindy Marten to serve as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, stressing the importance of a fully-staffed Department of Education to get students safely back in the classroom as quickly as possible, address learning loss, and build back a fairer, more equitable public education system. In her opening remarks, Senator Murray commended Superintendent Marten’s long record as a champion for students and noted her decades of experience as an educator and administrator.

 

“Between her decades of experience as an educator and administrator, and her record fighting for students—it’s clear Superintendent Marten is an excellent choice to help Secretary Cardona, and that as Deputy Secretary of Education, she would be a champion for students,” said Senator Murray in her opening remarks. “We still have a lot of work ahead to end this pandemic, support our students in recovering from the academic, social, and emotional impacts of it, and help our nation rebuild stronger and fairer. It’s going to take all hands on deck, which is why it’s so important we confirm Cindy Marten, who has a lifetime of experience that makes her well qualified to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education.”

 

During the hearing, Senator Murray highlighted Superintendent Marten’s long history of fighting to get students a high quality, public education as a literacy specialist, teacher, vice principal, principal, and now Superintendent of SDUSD. Senator Murray noted that during Superintendent Marten’s tenure, her district achieved the fastest reading growth in large urban districts nationwide, and had the highest graduation rate of all big city districts in California in 2019. Additionally, Senator Murray noted that Superintendent Marten understands first-hand the issues communities are struggling with when it comes to safely reopening schools for in-person learning.

 

“She knows how important it is for every student to be able to get a high quality public education. And she has worked throughout her career to try to make this vision a reality in her community,” continued Senator Murray. “We have a big task ahead—and it’s going to take a full team of people like Cindy Marten, who are highly qualified and deeply committed, to get it all done.”

 

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“Superintendent Marten, thank you for joining us today—it’s nice to be able to meet you in person. I’m also pleased to welcome your son, Andrew, and your mother, Fern who are here with you.

 

“I look forward to hearing from you about the challenges our nation is facing.

 

“The passage of the American Rescue Plan and recent announcements from the Biden Administration have given hope and help to students, families, and schools across the country.

 

“However, while we have good reason for optimism, we have no room for complacency.


“We still have a lot of work ahead to end this pandemic, support our students in recovering from the academic, social, and emotional impacts of it, and help our nation rebuild stronger and fairer. 


“It’s going to take all hands on deck, which is why it’s so important we confirm Cindy Marten, who has a lifetime of experience that makes her well qualified to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education.


“She knows how important it is for every student to be able to get a high quality public education.

“And she has worked throughout her career to try to make this vision a reality in her community.

 

“Marten has been an educator for over 32 years, serving as a literacy specialist, teacher, vice principal, principal, and now as Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District—the second largest public school district in California—a position she has held since 2013.

 

“As an educator and principal at Central Elementary, in a mostly immigrant and working class neighborhood in San Diego, she worked to support students by establishing a successful bi-literacy program, a hands-on garden program, integrated arts education, quality after-school and preschool programs, and a community health and wellness center for students and their families.

 

“She also worked to support her staff, educators, and their families by establishing a daycare center for employees’ children.

 

“As Superintendent, she has prioritized qualified and experienced teaching, student literacy, health and wellness, and racial equity.

 

“And under her tenure, the district achieved the fastest reading growth in large urban districts nationwide, and had the highest graduation rate of all big city districts in California last year.

 

“And of course—like most school districts across the country—it has faced challenges in navigating this pandemic.

 

“Superintendent Marten knows firsthand the issues communities are struggling with when it comes to serving all students equitably, and safely reopening schools for in-person learning.

 

“Between her decades of experience as an educator and administrator, and her record fighting for students—it’s clear Superintendent Marten is an excellent choice to help Secretary Cardona, and that as Deputy Secretary of Education, she would be a champion for students.

 

“Especially those who have so sorely needed a champion at the Department these last four years including students of color, students from families with low incomes, students with disabilities, women, LGBTQ students, English learners, and so many others.

 

“I also believe she will be a valuable partner as we tackle the many challenges that lie ahead.

 

“While those challenges may start with making good on the promise of the American Rescue Plan, and helping schools safely reopen for in person learning—our work will not end there.


“We have to ensure schools have access to comparable data on how students are doing, and provide funding and support for schools as they work to address the ways COVID has set back students from a typical year.

 

“We have to address the damage this pandemic has done and how it has impacted students—especially how it has exacerbated the longstanding inequities, rooted in systemic racism, that many students face.

 

“We have to address the digital divide that left so many students—particularly students of color and those from families with low incomes—cut off from their classmates during this crisis.

 

“We have to address the fact too many students are struggling to receive access to a high-quality curriculum, counseling services, such as mental health care, nutritious meals, or other resources they need.

 

“Too many families can’t get quality, affordable pre-k and early education, and all of this has been made worse by COVID-19.

 

“We also have to address the student debt crisis—which is now on a collision course with the economic crisis this pandemic has caused.

“We have to make sure higher education is affordable, accessible, accountable, and safe—for every student.

 

“And we need to address the deep, systemic inequities rooted in racism, sexism, ableism, and bigotry that permeate our education system, and that this crisis has put on painful display.

 

“We have a big task ahead—and it’s going to take a full team of people like Cindy Marten, who are highly qualified and deeply committed, to get it all done.

 

“So I hope after today’s hearing all of my colleagues will join me in supporting her nomination.

 

“Finally, I seek unanimous consent to put in the record 26 letters in support of Cindy Marten’s nomination, from state and federal legislators, civil rights organizations, educators, and educational institutions.

 

“I’d also like to note the more than 100 emails we’ve received from your former students, families, and colleagues sharing stories about how Superintendent Marten touched their lives.

 

“So ordered.

 

“Now I’ll recognize Ranking Member Burr for his opening remarks.”

 

###