By Joette Spencer-Campbell
Chair, Concerned African American Parent Alliance
The Lincoln Cluster in San Diego released a report, Education Inequity: Data Behind the Racial Disparities in San Diego USD, that brings attention to the discrepancies on record between Black students and White students under Cindy Marten, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). According to the report, 62% of Black students can neither read nor write on grade level and 72% do not perform at grade level in mathematics.
Marten was recently nominated by President Biden to serve as the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
“What’s at stake here is the perception that Cindy Marten has done well by the Black students she serves. That is false,” said Roosevelt Blackmon, Lincoln Cluster Co-Chair. “The fact is the student achievement gap for Black and White students is pronounced under Marten’s leadership. These gaps are wider than those in San Diego County and wider than those in the state of California.”
The report also details the alarmingly higher rates of suspension for Black students, particularly Black boys.
- The suspension rate for Black boys is 206% higher than the district average and represents the highest suspension rate for any racial or gender group.
- The suspension rate for Black girls is 46% higher than the district average.
- Black male foster youth is the subgroup most likely to be suspended at 26%.
Overall, the suspension rate for Black students remains nearly unchanged from 2013 when Marten took the helm.
“President Biden made a good choice for the U.S. Secretary of Education when he selected Miguel Cardona. However, his selection of Marten is questionable,” said Christina Laster, former education chair of the South Riverside NAACP in California. “It is critical that who sits in the seat as Cardona’s deputy is someone who embodies the values that are important to all students, particularly those who are historically underserved by the public education system. Marten has not shown that she is that person.”
San Diego civil rights groups have openly come out against the nomination of Marten including the San Diego NAACP. Its president, Francine Maxwell said, “The NAACP San Diego would like to express its firm and resolute opposition to the nomination of current San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten, to the post of deputy secretary in the federal Department of Education…During her administration, African American students and families have not only been systematically de-prioritized, but key programs and resources to support African American student success have been stripped and abolished.”