January 27, 2021

Cindy Marten has been nominated as the US Department of Education’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools. If confirmed, Marten would be second in command potentially serving under Biden’s nominee for US Department of Education Secretary, Dr. Miguel Cardona who already brings in K-12 experience.

At a time when Black children are suspended and expelled at higher rates than any other children on a national, state and local level, it is quite troubling to hear that San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) Superintendent will help lead the Nation’s Education Department given her district’s own history of educating both Black and Brown children in San Diego.

Ms. Marten in the past year has attempted to correct harm by conducting anti-Racist trainings that included Dr. Bettina Love–which were voluntary and not mandatory–along with changing policies on grading. While this is commendable, it does not erase the fact that SDUSD has a history of harming our children, families, staff, and educators.

A recent report released by researchers at San Diego States University (SDSU) Black Minds Project sheds light on historical disproportionate rates of suspensions and expulsions in SDUSD. For example, the report found that Black males in Kindergarten through Third grade (K-3) are suspended at a rate that is 280% higher than that of their peers. The report also found that in comparison to the district’s average, Black males were 3.1x more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension and 2.8x more likely to receive an in-school suspension. To help fix this issue, researchers offered to provide free on-going district-wide training on implicit bias and microaggressions in the district, an offer that never received a response.

On a national level, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2018, Black children had the highest amount of disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates nationwide. Black boys, who otherwise are at the bottom of the achievement gap, lead the way in the percentage of suspensions and expulsions, more than any other subgroup. Black girls outpace every sub-group except for Native American boys and tie with Bi-Racial boys.

According to NAACP’s Education Chair, Katrina Hasan Hamilton, “Black children experience Racial Trauma and Racial Battle Fatigue as early as preschool and Kindergarten and districts like SDUSD that suspend and expel our children at higher rates are part of the systemic problem.”

Educators at all levels must have a track record of dismantling the harmful practices of Anti-Blackness and institutional Racism that occur in our schools. Cindy Marten’s district has a historical pattern of disproportionately high suspensions and expulsions of Black students in San Diego.

President-Elect Biden, with all of the qualified educators we have in our nation, including educators in Higher Education like Dr. Tyrone Howard and Dr. Pedro Noguera, who have worked with improving outcomes for Black children for years or Dr. Leslie Fenwick, Dean Emeritus of Howard University, who you considered for the top spot and for years has addressed the teacher crisis where “less than 20 percent of the nation’s 3.2 million teachers are educators of color” this is not a good choice for healing Black students, families and educators. Nor is it a step in the right direction for repairing ant-Blackness and harm in our schools.

Sincerely,

Katrina Hasan Hamilton, Education Chair
NAACP San Diego Branch

PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195

(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
info@sandiegonaacp.org
www.sandiegonaacp.org

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