Competition to Serve as the State’s Top Educator

Competition to Serve as the State’s Top Educator

“When you have a voice, you also have a moral obligation to use that voice for good.”
Leandra Medine 

In November, voters will have the privilege of going to the polls and selecting California’s new State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Votes cast during the June primary, whittled the original field of four candidates to two. Those left standing, candidates Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck, both Democrats, will face off in November.

Tuck has described himself as an education reformer whose experience is rooted in running charter schools and alternative district schools in Los Angeles. He ran for this same position in the last election cycle but was edged out by the state’s current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. Not surprisingly, Tuck has strong backing from the powerful charter school industry. 

Thurmond, on the other hand, is a second-term state assemblyman with a background in social work. Before entering politics, he founded and/or managed nonprofits in the Bay Area which served low-income foster children, truant students, and children involved with the criminal justice system. Thurmond enjoys support of the Democratic Party establishment and both teachers’ unions. 

Tuck barely edged Thurman out of first place in the June primary. Tuck received 37.2 percent of the vote compared to Thurmond’s 35.6 percent. 

There is not much space, if any, between the two candidates on critical education issues in the state which seems to change very little from year to year. Such issues include student achievement in general, closing the achievement gap between groups of students, in addition to issues related to funding and the teacher shortage.  

This year’s battle for State Superintendent of Public Instruction is symbolic of the epic and ongoing battle in recent years between those who support traditional public instruction versus those who support the public charter school industry—data has shown there is very little difference in student achievement between the two. 

The Supreme Court’s June decision on “Janus,” has hobbled the teachers’ unions’ ability to provide funding support to political candidates/issue due to their now reduced revenue stream; while few doubt contributions will continue to pour into Tuck’s campaign from the charter school industry. 

Regardless of the dollars that pour into either candidate’s campaign coffers, in the final analysis, it is the voters of California who will have the final say.  In November, citizens will do more than elect a new Superintendent of Public Instruction, their votes may well determine the future of public education in the state. 

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams
Managing Editor

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