When Cindy Marten became the superintendent of San Diego Unified, she had a harsh take on the state of the school system.
She recognized that the district could not say what a quality school was and yet was committed to providing one in each neighborhood. The district desperately needed more money, but had no way to measure what the return on new investments would be.
“This will be the central tension of Marten’s term. She does not have a very positive evaluation of the district as it is. But she refuses to blame anyone for its current state,” I wrote when she started in summer 2013.
Four years later, it absolutely has been the central tension of her term. Marten is overwhelmed with troubles and yet she is unwilling to fully, publicly confront any of them.
Voice of San Diego has uncovered many of these problems. But even I get lost in the daily drumbeat. So I sat down to write out the list of challenges and it left me dismayed.
We did see a drastic increase in funding for the district, just as Marten hoped when she started. Actually, nobody could have reasonably imagined a faster, sharper infusion of cash. And that came even though the district is educating fewer students than it had in 2013.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
State taxpayers have got to quit falling for the educational bureaucracy's constant fake siren song of "We need more and more and more of your money to do our jobs. Trust us and let us increase your taxes to provide those billions of dollars. Accountability? We don't need no stinking accountability."
I have and never will vote for any ballot measure to provide more money for education. There is more than enough money. Problem is there is no professional management, way too much deadwood overhead, on and on.
Education has become a business like a leech on taxpayers. Time to cut it off, let it die until corrective action is made.
And now--Prop Z money is being used to remodel the football, baseball and softball fields at Patrick Henry High School.
The district can't even fix small problems--like replacing the flag pole in front of Foster Elementary. It's been gone since February.
“Other than that, Mrs. LIncoln, how did you like the play? ” Now that you’ve fired Cindy Marten, are you negotiating with Bill Kowba for a return stint?
Like you, I’m disappointed in Marten’s performance, but you have to remember who appointed her and what she has to please, possibly the lousiest school board in California.
Keep up the good work VOSD! Education is by far the biggest factor in reducing inequality. We have to improve by orders of magnitude.
Let's be clear about a couple of things in the AP Testing debacle. Not one of the students whose test scores were invalidated is accused of cheating. While an "irregularity" led to the College Board checking the seating chart, this mess falls squarely on the shoulders of the administration and district. Had the admin seated the students correctly, any self-reported "irregularity" would have gone unnoticed. Also, this was no "error." The school administration KNEW they were not following the College Board regulations. Now, hundreds of students have to pay for the negligence (not mistake) of adults.
@Linda Smith Would it be fair to say the incompetent people who willfully failed to set up the testing area according to known standards should be financially liable not only for reimbursing the student's testing costs and for all costs incurred through testing prep classes?
No way should any student, their family, lose a dime due to the willful, utter incompetence of those responsible.
Personally I would love to see a class action lawsuit against them to also cover the costs of classes the students will now have to take thanks to bureaucratic bungling.
Fair is fair.
Ms. Martin has seemed to me to lack requisite competence for the job from the start, but it's important to remember that she is the person selected by the board to lead the district. They can presumably replace her at will. Thus the responsibility here lies with the board.
As for the board, one of the problems we face as a community is the manner in which the school board is elected. The elections tend to be down ballot along with judges that most voters haven't heard of and a number of other functionaries, but the board holds great power over tax dollars and children's lives. Perhaps the process by which we select those who control our schools is not working.
@Chris Brewster When the School members ran for election, most of them stressed they were educators and union members. This should never be a strong pint to be elected. When this is you strong point you have a main interest in giving to you union brother/sisters and making sure the status quo continued. Learn from this voters.
With the budget a mess and employees going up while class size stays high, maybe it is time to figure out who all those employees are and what they are doing. My guess, based on school board minutes and experience working for SDUSD, is that they are all one kind of assistant or another to Martin. The district is crawling with assistant superintendents and paid consultants. And even with help she is unable to do her job. It looks like time for an audit of the books and new leadership.
Congratulations Mr. Lewis. This
is really a great article.You focused on the two largest problems with the
Marten leadership: Lack of accountability and lack of transparency.
A close 3rd, and maybe the cause of 1 and 2, is a total lack of experience and credentials for the job.
The scary part is that you covered
only a portion of the issues that have occurred under Marten. I could
name many more…among them:
-How about the student sexual abuse and Marten answering “it depends” under oath when asked if a sexual issue between two kindergarteners is a “serious incident”?
-How about ignoring REAL Restorative Justice with no budget and no staff
-What about the slow death of GATE?
-How about the removal of ELST's with no plan to support ELL students?
- How about the MRAP?
- How about her accepting the job with her selection violating the Brown Act in secret with no community input?
- How about her having only Elementary School experience and lack of large district credentials that caused all these disasters?, How about her enabling Board of Ed cronies?
-How about the current toxic SDUSD work environment?
And many, many more we have written about on District Deeds...too many to list. -
BTW-the SDUSD Board of Education is in closed session both Tuesday and Thursday creating Marten's annual evaluation..just posted about it on my blog.
In any case-Great job!
@DistrictDeeds wordpress com how about her, and the boards, FAQ's regarding PE when it was on the chopping block. It mentioned that if elementary pe was eliminated the classroom teachers would continue to provide "quality" instruction in an area they have little or no ability to teach. I'm surprised no investigative reporter has looked into that ed code violation. Probably all elem. schools in the district are out of compliance while students lose out on 1000 plus minutes on mandated amounts. Latest research show SDUSD students are approaching 40% on the unhealthy/obese scale. Trust me, next year they will push to eliminate credentialed PE teacher in elem schools.
I am so glad that my youngest child is done with the K-12 world. She attended Catholic schools and I would say that her high school was more than outstanding. It is because her older siblings attended public school and those experiences were less than positive, that I sent her to private school.
I agree that the school board needs to be replaced. Completely replaced. I also think that the superintendent needs to go as well. I'm all for "promoting from within" but Cindy Marten hasn't improved anything in the last four years. Had my child been affected by the AP test debaucle, I'd be furious. My youngest only took one AP class, but her school was more than diligent in following the testing procedures.
I am pleased that VOSD is keeping watch on SDUSD.
Martin is a symptom, the school board is the problem. Union Labor bosses and organized labor puppets have locked down special deals for their unions to the point non-union local tax paying construction workers can't work on bond (tax) funded school construction work and tenured school teachers possess job security super powers.
I appreciate the information VOSD has provided on public education but as long as special interest hacks populate the SDUSD school board with the full backing of Sacramento nothing will be done other than tomorrow's new example of students / tax payers getting screwed again.
@philip piel : You are absolutely correct about the school board and special interests.
@philip piel I am in love! I react with rapture when I see references to "Union Labour bsses". The expressions "special deals" followed by "special interests" is a coupling that brings on ecstasy; magical expressions, all. Where they fail is that they provide little or no information as they titillate.
I do agree on the super powers held by tenured teachers and on the unsuitability of Martin.
@philip piel This won't change until school board elections are changed to NOT be city-wide, which makes it much harder for candidates without the financial backing of the unions (LaShae Collins is a recent example) to win city-wide elections even if they have the support of their district. Council Dems voted against changing this earlier this year...