SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten was confirmed Tuesday as the nation's next deputy education secretary.
The U.S. Senate voted 54-44 to confirm Marten, who was nominated for the post earlier this year by the Biden administration.
Once Marten is sworn into office, she will assume the federal post after more than three decades as an educator in San Diego, including eight years as superintendent of SDUSD.
"My message to students has always been, `Work hard. Be kind. Dream big,' Marten said. "The students of San Diego Unified have lived up to that challenge beyond anything I could have imagined as a young principal in City Heights, or even as the superintendent of the second-largest school district in California. National education leaders have recognized the gains our students are making."
In 2019, San Diego Unified seniors achieved the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California. District elementary students and middle schoolers, that same year, outperformed the average of their peers in both math and reading.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said he was looking forward to working with Marten following her success in San Diego.
"As superintendent of the second-largest school district in California and one of the longest-serving urban school leaders in America, Cindy remained committed to San Diego when the pandemic hit, finding ways to provide technology to thousands of students and provide more than 20 million free meals to students in need," he said. "Cindy also partnered with the local public university to stand up testing at all San Diego Unified School District campuses to curb the spread of the disease and protect students, staff, and the community.
"Our top priority at the Department of Education is to reopen America's schools for in-person learning, support students' social, emotional, and academic needs, and address inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic," Cardona continued. "I am thrilled that Cindy has accepted this challenge and I look forward to working with her as she continues to serve our nation's students as deputy secretary."
The school district applauded the move in a tweet that read, "Exciting news! We are proud to share that Superintendent Cindy Marten has been confirmed as the next U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, and will prepare to transition from San Diego Unified to Washington, D.C., to serve President @JoeBiden and students nationwide."
Lamont Jackson, San Diego Unified Area superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent through the end of the year until a permanent replacement is found.
A San Diegan by way of Chicago, Marten attended San Diego Unified's Hardy Elementary and Mann Middle School, and La Jolla Country Day School. She launched her education career in San Diego, where she worked as a teacher, literacy specialist, vice principal, principal and superintendent.
Marten spent a decade at Central Elementary School in City Heights, where she established a biliteracy program, an integrated arts education, after-school and preschool programs, a daycare center for employees' children and a community health and wellness center for students and their families.
"Cindy Marten has led this district with integrity, compassion and with students at the heart of every decision," Board of Education President Richard Barrera said. "As a teacher and a principal and a superintendent, Cindy Marten has been a champion for public education in a way that has made San Diego proud. As sorry as I am to see Cindy leave San Diego, I know our nation's students and teachers will benefit."