Sunday, November 2, 2014

CA Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Race is a Dead Heat: The Future of Public Education is at Stake

Introducing a new contributor to "Rantings of a Mad Woman," Charlene - my friend from sunny Southern California.  Charlene writes about California's race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Like races throughout the country, money talks and money has been poured even into this race...



Tom Torlakson, left; Marshall Tuck (AP: Torlakson; handout photo: Tuck) 


The candidates for California's Superintendent of Public Instruction are: Tom Torlakson (pictured left), incumbent superintendent, former educator and California State Legislator; and Marshall Tuck (pictured right), former Wall Street Banker, charter school President, and non-profit CEO.

This race is not a “Reformer vs. Union Campaign”, (Tuck vs. Torlakson, respectively), as Forbes would have us believe. And it's not about rotten test scores because of rotten teachers and tenure that keeps them employed. Poor student achievement is more the result of factors related to income inequality than to poor teaching, according to Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and former Assistant Secretary of Education, from her book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.

What is at issue in this race is big money, making big profits from the privatization of our public educational system, at the expense of our children, and the leading advocates for privatization are funding Marshall Tuck’s campaign for State Superintendent of Education in California. " Public education is becoming big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an “emerging market."

Big Business money from "Corporate school “reformers” have raised over $4 million from the very rich during the last week" investing heavily in the Tuck campaign. The Sacramento Bee reported of the roughly $10M of outside money that has poured into this race, the $7.5M has been in support of Tuck and include the likes of Los Angeles businessman Eli Broad ($1M) and, from out of state, Alice Walton, Wal-Mart heiress ($450k).These are two (among others such as Bill Gates, Paul Tudor Jones) who "have misguided ideas because they believe that by destroying public education, they’re helping children. They’re hurting our democracy and hurting children."

But Eli Broad has made an even greater investment in Marshall Tuck than $1M. Tuck is a graduate of the Broad Center: Residency in Urban Education, which they say is a program "preparing a growing network of experienced leaders and managers... helping improve the learning outcomes and life chances of the students they serve." However, the Broad Center 'training' is not certified, has no state approvals, is not subject to any outside monitoring, yet it “trains” people who then take leadership roles in urban districts and in state education departments. Many were never educators.  Further, these graduates aren't providing leadership or necessarily improving outcomes, and Broad Center-trained superintendents often create turmoil within the educational systems they infiltrate, are ousted or leave under curious circumstances, and amid unpopular policies. One such Broad Center grad, John Deasy, LAUSD Superintendent, resigned October 15, 2014 under a cloud of controversy.

Here are some other articles and posts worth reading:

"Marshall Tuck comes to the education sector not through the study or practice of teaching but through the world of private finance, business school, investment banking and “computers." The achievements he lists on website are refuted in an LA Progressive report entitled "Marshall Tuck's Legacy of Bigotry and Failure." Some of his failures at Partnership for LA Schools (and of the PLAS itself) are highlighted in "Marshall Tuck Betrays Latino and African American Parents" by Cheryl Ortega, Director of Bilingual Education, UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles).

It was not my intention to understate the many accomplishments of Tom Torlakson, both as a legislator and an educator supporting of our children and our environment, that qualify him to hold the office of California's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Mr. Torlakson has earned our support, our vote; he's got mine.

"If you want to improve public education, vote for Tom Torlakson. If you want to get rid of public schools, Tuck’s the guy" - Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and former Assistant Secretary of Education.


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