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Marten Crest

On June 9th, 2014 the educational opportunities for over 29,000 English Language Learners took a huge step BACKWARD.  Superintendent Marten, being bankrupt on any other ideas to balance the budget, royally commanded, with no Principal, Teacher, Parent or Student collaboration, that 1 headcount would need to be cut from every school in the SDUSD.  Accompanying that Royal Command was a suggestion that the Principal look to either moving or eliminating the English Language Support Teacher as the first option for the headcount elimination.   This Royal Command was met with disbelief and apprehension by every knowledgeable Stakeholder at every school in the SDUSD.

The shocking Royal Command is not so shocking when taken in context with the standard operating procedure of the way that Marten orchestrates changes.  Some of the common tactics include the following:

  • No Collaboration with Stakeholders

Since this was a classic rookie desperation, stopgap maneuver to balance the budget the last thing that Marten wanted was any pushback from those who need and successfully use the ELST wisely.  The easiest way is to just NOT HAVE THE DISCUSSION and just make the ROYAL COMMAND.  This, combined with the timing of the budget submission (see the next bullet) even minimized/eliminated collaboration with Stakeholders AFTER the Royal Command was made

This has been used recently on the Royal Command to remove Principals, with no Stakeholder collaboration or reason, at well performing/improving schools like SCPA, Lincoln and Field both before and after the ill-fated decision.

  • Timing Royal Commands when stakeholders have the least amount of time or resources to respond and giving little or no opportunity to appeal the misdirected and inadequate Superintendent decision.

June 9th was Monday of the week of Graduation for most standard schedule schools.  It was also the week that many long term employees were retiring and had special events planned with the staff.   The Principals had to have their budgets completed AND submitted within 4 days…by Friday the 13th.  The Principals had the choice of ruining graduation week for, in some schools with many ELL’s, upwards of 90% of their students or just taking the action on the budget hoping to be able to explain it later.

Waivers were granted for only 1 reason: To maintain class size.  All other reasons like ELL need or community requirements were not allowed and would be denied.  With that criteria, most Principals didn’t even bother.

This is another example of Marten reducing well-meaning and dedicated Professional Educators into Used Car Salespersons https://districtdeeds.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/trust-us-or-how-the-sdusd-senior-leadership-team-turns-professional-educators-into-used-car-salespersons/

It also ties to the scheduling of the Principal Criteria meetings in July before 6:00 pm so the least number of stakeholders can attend https://districtdeeds.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/the-sdusd-principal-selection-side-show-act-2-lets-pretend/


The following is a grid that shows this strategy in action with the 10 schools that had “Community Meetings” related to Principal “re-assignment”:


  • When in doubt and desperate, pick on the weakest Stakeholder

Even though, according to the Mario Koran Article in the VOSD (http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/07/21/the-abcs-of-english-learning-students/) more than 20% of the SDUSD Student population is ELL’s, their ability to fight the Royal Command of Marten is much less.  From my observations over 14 years of volunteering, it seems many ELL families have challenges that don’t always allow them to spend time advocating for what their children need.

Many may:

  • Work more than one job
  • Have both parents work
  • Have a language barrier for communicating their opposition
  • Not have computers.

In addition, the so-called headcount “strategy” victimized the schools with the smallest constituency.

Marten and her inner circle advisors demanded that ALL schools cut one headcount which was proportionally UNFAIR to smaller schools as a percentage of staff being cut.

For instance:

  • A school with 50 teachers who have to cut 1 FTE has an impact of 50/1 or 2% of staff
  • A School with 15 teachers who have to cut 1 FTE has an impact of 15/1 or 7% of staff

The schools hurt the most were smaller schools with a large ELL population…and were the ones with the least ability to fight back!!!  I wonder if this violates the SDUSD Bullying Rules.

This strategy is common with the SDUSD DISTRICT WIDE when they pick inexperienced Stakeholders for Principal selection committees, focus groups, and special “audiences” with Marten to simulate Stakeholder engagement.

The last section of the Koran article posed the question: “So is this a big, fat disaster waiting to happen?”

“My response would be: “No, this is a big fat disaster already happening…it’s called the Marten Monarchy.”