This Wednesday, April 21, 2021, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will be voting on the nomination of San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Cindy Marten to serve as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education.

The article in today’s Sunday Reads from Chalkbeat provides the strong propaganda position of Education Secretary Cardona to have schools “rebuild trust with students and families of color”.

That quote sounded hauntingly familiar to another quote all SDUSD Stakeholders heard from Cindy Marten in 2013:

“What’s happening at Lincoln is at the heart of the struggle in America,” she said. “When we get Lincoln right, we get America right.”

Marten has never gotten Lincoln “right” through her 8 years as SDUSD Superintendent and there is no evidence or reason to think Marten can successfully assist Dr. Cardona in getting the United States “right” by rebuilding “trust with students and families of color”

We will show how this Cardona aspirational “vision” melds with Marten actions and how the two individuals may not be the “Odd Couple” they appear to be on the surface.

We have selected the most relevant portions of the article for our reader but District Deeds strongly urges our readers to click on the title (in red) and read the full articles for themselves in Chalkbeat.


Cardona: Schools Need to Rebuild Trust with Students and Families of Color as Reopening Continues


Quote from article:

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona issued a blunt call Friday for schools to address the mistrust felt by Black and brown communities as they push more students to return to classrooms.

It was concerning, Cardona said, that students of color have opted into in-person learning at lower rates than their white peers. “But it shouldn’t surprise us, if prior to pandemic we have had issues engaging and achieving the same outcomes for students of color as the general student population,” he said.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re focusing not only on better remote [learning], but also engaging in the communities to regain that trust, and share very specifically what we’re going to do to help those students achieve at high levels. They deserve it.”

Cardona’s comments come as new federal data show the racial disparities in which students were learning online remained wide in February. More than half of Black and Hispanic fourth graders, and nearly 70% of Asian fourth graders, were learning virtually, compared with only a quarter of white students in that grade. That pattern has been apparent all year, with districts serving more students of color less likely to offer in-person learning and families of color less likely to choose in-person learning when it is offered.

On Friday, the federal education department also released a wide-ranging set of guidance for school districts with suggestions for using stimulus money and helping students recover from the pandemic.


On Friday, the federal education department also released a wide-ranging set of guidance for school districts with suggestions for using stimulus money and helping students recover from the pandemic.


Notably, officials make suggestions in each section for how these strategies can be put into action fairly by paying particular attention to students of color, students from low-income families, and other disadvantaged students who’ve long experienced inequities in their schools. It’s an example of how Cardona is likely to lead the education department in the years to come, given his past focus on addressing racial and economic gaps in outcomes for students.


And as school districts encourage more students to come back into classrooms, federal officials say educators need to be mindful of the reasons why many parents of color have been hesitant to return, including the “physical, mental, and emotional safety” of their children. Some Asian families may be worried their children will be harassed, the document notes, while some Black families may be fearful their children will face disproportionate discipline, as they did before the pandemic.

For that reason, officials say, work to re-engage families should include efforts to “address any longstanding feelings of distrust resulting from students’ and families’ of color experiences in school prior to the pandemic and that may have been exacerbated by events of the last year.”

That’s something Cardona addressed Friday. “We know that Black and brown communities were negatively impacted by the pandemic more as well,” he said. “So they may be dealing with more loss. There may be issues of distrust, of how the system is going to support their students.”

The guidance also suggests shifts that would reverberate far beyond the pandemic, including changes to how states fund schools to more equitably account for students with the greatest needs. “The current crisis can serve as a call to action,” it says.


This article by Chalkbeat provides a great insight into how deeply Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona wants to position the ongoing alienation of parents and students of color that has been magnified and worsened by the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Reading through the article we clicked on the “past focus” link to find another Chalkbeat article titled “For Miguel Cardona, the Ability to Build Community and Confront Racism was Forged in his Connecticut Hometown” that gave us some reasons why.

A key section of that article provided his background:

“Cardona grew up in public housing in Meriden, a city of about 60,000 located between Hartford and New Haven. His grandparents and parents moved to Meriden from Puerto Rico, and Cardona began school as an English learner, having learned Spanish as a child.

Cardona began teaching fourth grade at a Meriden elementary school in 1998, and within five years had become the youngest principal in Connecticut. At Hanover Elementary, he oversaw a period of academic growth and earned a reputation as a caring educator who helped create a community where families from different backgrounds felt genuinely welcome. That was particularly important at a time when the school — which had historically enrolled more white students and fewer students in poverty than other parts of the school district — saw a significant increase in the percentage of Latino students and students from low-income families.”

A heartwarming story about a child of immigrants, an English Language Learner (ELL) raised in public housing, whose innate sense of public service propelled him to being the youngest Principal in Connecticut.

WOW!  What a background!

But as a SDUSD Stakeholders who has read similar “rags to riches” bio information about Cindy Marten, we dug deeper an found this article from Newsweek titled  “Teachers Blast Biden’s Education Secretary Pick Miguel Cardona: ‘A Slap in the Face'”.

The story has a couple relevant quotes.

First from a Teacher who leads a grass roots organization called CTPS Advocates:

“In a letter addressed to Biden and Linda Darling-Hammond, who headed the campaign’s education transition team, CTPS Advocates urged Biden not to select Cardona, arguing that his reopening plan risked the health of educators and students alike.

“As concerns about the safety of school reopening arose over the summer, we asked to meet with Commissioner Cardona to discuss these concerns. He refused to do so, sending a message of disregard and non-collaboration with community groups,” the letter said.”

Does that sound familiar to SDUSD Stakeholders?

Next from the president of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents:

“The president of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Evelyn Robles-Rivas, called the nomination “history in the making,” but educators worry his ethnic identity is not enough to qualify him for a seat on the Cabinet.

“I worry that it’s almost a level of tokenism in which Commissioner Cardona does not have a track record of equity in education here in Connecticut,” Rizzo said.

“I think it’s extremely important that we have a person of color or a female or both in this role. However, who that person is needs to have a proven track record and be able to stand on their platform of their experience,” she added.”

WOW again!

“a proven track record and be able to stand on their platform of their experience”?!?

They both could be describing Cindy Marten!

After a simple analysis, it appears that Cardona an Marten have a lot if things in common:

Humble beginnings:

Cardona:  A child of immigrants, an English Language Learner (ELL) raised in public housing and attended local public schools.

Marten: A child raised in a predominantly immigrant City Heights and sent to neighborhood schools by parents who were miraculously able to pay thousands of dollars for her enrollment at an elite private high school in La Jolla.

Meteoric rise:

Cardona: 5 years as a Teacher, 10 years as an Elementary School Principal, 4 more years as Assistant Superintendent and promoted to Connecticut Commissioner of Education.

Marten:   15 years as an Elementary Teacher/Literary Specialist, 4 years as an Elementary School Principal, 8 years as SDUSD Superintendent.

Persona Propaganda:

Cardona:  Quotes from the community:  “Students, parents, and teachers recall that Cardona was always visiting classrooms and talking with students.” and “It was really personal. It felt like a family,”

Marten: Quotes from political cronies: “Cindy Marten will be a great voice for our students and educators,” Weber tweeted. “Thank you for your equity work, spanning 31 years in education, including 17 years in the classroom.”, “This is a great pick by @JoeBiden,” tweeted Mayor Todd Gloria.,

So Cardona and Marten have a lot of similarities in their rapid ascension to power and the way they have been able to effectively promote themselves to higher office, Cardona doing it through an affluent K-7 elementary school and Marten doing it though a Title 1 K-5 elementary school.

Perfect maybe, but not in Education operational leadership

But is being the ineffective “Perfect Couple” that have similar skills exclude them from being an effective “Odd Couple”

We believe it does.

First of all, Cardona has already been appointed.  That means the primary skills of Marten for self promotion, propaganda, thin top leadership credentials, rapid unqualified advancement and pandering to special political interests has already been covered…she is not needed there.

The Deputy Secretary of Education is described as follows on the Department of Education page:

Based on the actual performance and credentials of Cindy Marten, she has virtually zero operational skills or experience to perform any of those duties in a small school district, let alone the United States.

We are also not sure that Secretary Cardona has the credentials required for the Deputy Secretary job…but he does not have to.  He has the “vision” Secretary of Education spokesperson role and he has been more successful at it in his career than Marten.

However he does need that right hand person to be operationally skilled enough to carry out his “on the ground” vison.  He does not need someone who mirrors his skills in that operational role.  To move with urgency, he needs someone who can immediately complement the skills he does not possess.

In this case, like the case in every major organization in the world when hiring senior staff, the employee selected is one who will bring custom skills in the specific area they will be responsible for.  In other words, not a perfect couple employees that only knows the same things as the rest of leadership, but the odd couple employee that contributes where the others are lacking.

For instance:

The “Odd Couple” match between accounting and sales.

The “Odd Couple” match between tech support and customer service.

The “Odd Couple” match between Human Resources and the Legal Department.

We do not know Secretary Cardona and are not presumptuous enough to judge his intentions.

But we take him at his word when he says:

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re focusing not only on better remote [learning], but also engaging in the communities to regain that trust, and share very specifically what we’re going to do to help those students achieve at high levels. They deserve it.”

We agree with you 100% Dr. Cardona…but Cindy Marten is NOT the way to get there….she is your “Perfect Couple” partner, not your “Odd Couple” Partner.

Ask the NAACP San Diego Branch why they said Marten worked to “undermine any and all efforts to effectively address racial and gender problems in the district”

THAT is the perfect example of Marten NOT “engaging in the communities to regain that trust”.

Secretary Cardona, and all of the the Senators who will soon vote on the Marten nomination:

Please look in the mirror and see yourself as a SDUSD Parent whose children have suffered irreparable educational damage from the operational inexperience and incompetence of Cindy Marten.

Then project that damage to millions of students nationwide.

If you do so, you have only one option.

Please vote NO on the “Perfect Couple” mismatch.

Please vote NO on Cindy Marten.

Now for our quote of the week:

I‘m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

– Michael Jackson



  • Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!
  • You want to be sure you don’t miss an issue of District Deeds, click the “follow” button below and you will get an email automatically when an article is published on District Deeds.
  • If you prefer social media, click on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn and follow District Deeds!!!