Why Electing Tony Thurmond as Superintendent of Public Instruction Is the Most Important Race in California

by on October 2, 2018 · 0 comments

in California, Education, Under the Perfect Sun

Last week in my column on Andrea Gabor’s After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform, I outlined how her superb study thoroughly exposes the fact that over the last twenty years or so, “the billionaire boys club has favored a punitive, hierarchical, undemocratic, one-size fits all approach that has hurt students more than it has helped them.” These corporate education reformers come to the table with an endless supply of money and a set of prejudices that favor:

Ideas and expertise forged in corporate boardrooms over knowledge and experience gleaned in the messy trenches of inner-city classrooms. They came with distrust of an education culture that values social justice over more practical considerations like wealth and position. They came with the arrogance that elevated polished, but often mediocre (or worse), technocrats over scruffy but knowledgeable educators. And most of all, they came with their suspicion—even their hatred—of organized labor and their contempt for ordinary public school teachers.

Tuck is THE Republican choice who is endorsed on statewide Republican mailers

Here in California, we have seen that the Bloombergs, Waltons, Broads, and other self-proclaimed rich saviors of the world have not been satisfied just to meddle in the classroom through various forms of philanthrocapitalism, they have sought to impose their will by trying to buy elections. Just last June an all-star crew of billionaires lost in their effort to turn California’s gubernatorial election into a proxy war over corporate education reform when Antonio Villaraigosa’s anti-union crusade for Governor fell flat with voters despite his donors’ considerable largesse.

Unfortunately, while their millions were vanquished in that round, the bottomless wallet crowd still have one more key position that they are intent on purchasing this fall: the Superintendent of Public Instruction. During the primary, I wrote two columns exposing the big money behind Marshall Tuck, which included not just the mega-rich corporate education crew, but also prominent Trump donors and other nefarious rightwing characters.

Well, those folks are still funding Tuck and most knowledgeable political observers expect a race where Tuck’s money advantage over Assemblyman Tony Thurmond will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million to $3 million. Thus, despite the support of the California Democratic Party, educators, labor, and a litany of community groups, it is essential that the grassroots mobilize to support Thurmond and spread the word about his candidacy in order to overcome this brazen attempt to buy the election.

Make no mistake: this is not just a battle between a corporate Democrat with wealthy backers and a small “d” Democrat with community support. Tuck is THE Republican choice who is endorsed on statewide Republican mailers and, as prominent education writer Diane Ravitch has observed, is a darling of Breitbart:

Earlier this summer, the rightwing rag Breitbart posted a very positive article about Marshall Tuck, who is running to become California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Breitbart, long associated with Steve Bannon and white-nationalist policies, identifies Tuck as pro-charter school and anti-union.

The article correctly notes that Tuck received only 5% of the votes at the state Democratic convention.

The overwhelming majority of Democratic delegates to the convention endorsed Tuck’s opponent, Tony Thurmond.

There are many reasons to vote for Tony Thurmond, including his experience as a social worker and his demonstrated concern for students, not corporate interests.

If you want Eli Broad and the other billionaires to control public education and privatize it, then Tuck’s your man.

If you want public schools to remain public and accountable to democratically elected school boards, vote for Tony Thurmond.

Thus, the choice could not be more stark: if you care about public education and democracy, don’t just vote for Tony Thurmond, spread the word from the rooftops.

Let’s not let this darling of the billionaire boys club and the far right slip under the radar and buy the election. If the Governor’s race is going to be a boring cruise for the Democrat, the one for Superintendent of Public Instruction should focus your attention. It’s about the future of public education and the heart and soul of progressive California.

No other race in the state is as important as this one. We need to make sure Tony Thurmond prevails

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