Cindy Marten faces tough questions from Republicans during Senate confirmation hearing

Written by Urvi Sakurikar

On Wednesday, San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten began the process of her confirmation as US Department of Education Deputy Secretary. 

As part of the process, Marten faced tough questioning from Senate Republicans, particularly Senator Romney. 

Sen. Romney refused to relent when the question of why San Diego schools remain closed came up, and even explicitly asked “Are you seeing a difference in infection rate in the places where schools are open versus those where schools are not open?” To which Marten responded with a “no.” 

While Marten tried to dodge questions about school reopening by bringing up the complicated nature of the subject, Republicans were not impressed by her lack of a straight answer as to why San Diego schools remain closed. 

When asked about addressing learning loss at a national level, Marten flippantly pointed to summer school and smaller class sizes. 

The pattern of vague and unclear answers continued when Marten was questioned about the recent federal stimulus check, and how specifically public schools would spend them. 

Marten mentioned that “some money should be spent on professional development for teachers” and hinted at students needing emotional support. 

Along with Senator Romney, Senator Burr also dug into Marten’s record and challenged her with certain parts of her history. 

For one, the San Diego Unified scandal in January of this year involving top-level district officials being trained to permanently delete emails from the district server. 

In addition to the issues with emails, Senator Burr also brought up the February 2020 lawsuit against San Diego Unified concerning reports of a teacher inappropriately touching students. 

In one of the most harrowing moments, Marten refused to give a straight answer regarding schools reopening for in-person instruction next fall. 

Superintendent Marten’s inability to directly answer questions, or even justify the prolonged closure of so many San Diego Unified schools, shows that she is not fit to make decisions about education at a national level.