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Credit: Video of the event by Educate Our State.

State superintendent candidates Marshall Tuck, left, and Tom Torlakson shake hands at the end of the debate co-sponsored by Educate Our State and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Spending in the race for California superintendent of public instruction has by far outstripped all other statewide races, including the campaign for governor. Although the superintendent has limited power, donors to incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck are spending big sums to influence what they consider is at stake in this election: the direction of education reform.

At $30 million, the combined spending is triple what Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican challenger Neel Kashkari have spent in the governor’s race and it is the most expensive superintendent’s race since at least 2002, the earliest race for which online campaign finance data is available.

About­ $25 million has been spent not by the candidates but by outside groups that – unlike donors contributing directly to candidates – have no legal limits on how much they can spend. About half that amount has been spent by unions on behalf of Torlakson. The other half has been spent mostly by wealthy proponents of charter schools and other school reforms on behalf of Tuck.

That puzzles David Menefee-Libey, a political science professor at Pomona College and co-contributor to the Education Week column “On California.” He said he can’t quite understand why there’s an arms race in donations for an office with little power under the state Constitution.

The state superintendent doesn’t set policy or write the Education Code; he runs the Department of Education, a diminishing bureaucracy in the era of local control. The state superintendent also has no authority over monitoring and approving charter schools; that is done locally.

But the state superintendent is the spokesman-in-chief on education in California, said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. And he said although this race is non-partisan, it “reflects the biggest single conflict within the Democratic Party – school reform.” Tuck and Torlakson are both Democrats, and some of Tuck’s biggest backers, like Eli Broad, are too.

A barometer for reform

Torlakson, Gov. Brown and most Democrats in the Legislature have been aligned with teachers unions on labor issues, while leading the effort to make school funding more equitable, switch to the Common Core State Standards and revise the state’s assessment and accountability systems – sweeping reforms affecting schools. The California Democratic Party has contributed $325,000 through independent expenditures on Torlakson’s  behalf.   

Tuck and his wing of reformers have clashed with teachers unions and their allies over increasing the number of charter schools, weakening teacher laws on tenure and dismissals, and using test scores to force school transformations, especially in low-income neighborhoods. However, Tuck also supports the Common Core and the Local Control Funding Formula.

Lately, the reformers in the Tuck camp  have been on the defensive, nationally and in Los Angeles Unified, where reformist superintendent John Deasy resigned after a series of crises, and candidates financed by Eli Broad and other Tuck supporters have lost school board elections. “The big wave of reform victories has crested and is receding,” Sonenshein said.  

A win by Tuck “would be seen as a moral boost” for those supporting the reforms he is championing, he said. “If he loses, it would be a serious defeat, for he really had a big shot with a competitive campaign,” he said.

Andrew Rotherham, co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit consulting firm and a frequent commentator on education reform, agreed that the outcome of the race should be a good measure of where voters are on the reforms Tuck and his supporters espouse.  “Is there a backlash against it?,” he asked.”Is it real?”

 A win by Tuck “would be seen as a moral boost for reform folks. If he loses, it would be a serious defeat, for he really had a big shot with a competitive campaign,” Raphael Sonenshein said.

The latest Field Poll, the last before Election Day, calls the race a dead heat, with 28 percent of voters backing Torlakson or Tuck and 44 percent saying they’re undecided. With predictions of a light turnout on Election Day, supporters are spending a lot of dollars to reach a few voters.

Torlakson and outside groups spent about four times as much as Tuck in the June primary. Torlakson got 47 percent of the vote to Tuck’s 29 percent in a three-way race but fell short of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff. Then came District Court Judge Rolf Treu’s decision in the Vergara v. California lawsuit, overturning the state’s laws on teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs by seniority. Treu’s ruling, in which he said the laws “shocked the conscience,” gave Tuck a weapon to attack Torlakson, who is appealing the ruling. It also allowed Tuck to cast the state’s two teachers unions as a force resisting change.

“At this point, the anti-union Democrats who have real influence inside Democratic circles in a lot of places have not gained much power in California, where unions are still part of mainstream politics,” Menefee-Libey said.

“What the unions don’t want,” said Rotherham, a former board member of Democrats For Education Reform, “is someone the next four years talking honestly about what is working and not working in schools. Marshall understands education and can talk about it, and that makes him dangerous” to the unions.

Unions go all out

According to EdSource’s updated contributions and spending data on the race, the California Teachers Association has spent $11.2 million supporting Torlakson. The smaller California Federation of Teachers and the national American Federation of Teachers have spent at least $850,000 supporting Torlakson through independent expenditure committees. Other labor unions have given six-figure contributions to the CTA’s independent campaign fund for Torlakson, including $225,000 from the California School Employees Association, which represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other hourly school employees, and $950,000 from the state Council of Service Employees Political Committee.

Other unions have given directly to the Torlakson’s campaign committee through individual locals. Political committees can give a maximum of $27,600, split between the primary and general election, directly to a candidate’s campaign. Individual donors can give half that amount directly to a candidate. All told, unions have given about $1 million, through their locals, to Torlakson.

“We see this as a key race determining the future of public education,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “Tom Torlakson comes out of the teaching ranks, with a vision of public education consistent with ours.”

Under Gov. Brown and Torlakson, he said, California rejected federal policies like the reform-based Race to the Top grants and resisted standardized testing in the transition to the Common Core. “If Tuck wins, he’ll use his bully pulpit to disagree with Brown’s perspective, and wage a battle over Vergara,” he said. And, he added, those across the country encouraging similar Vergara lawsuits and anti-teacher reforms “will trumpet” Tuck’s election.

“We see this as a key race determining the future of public education,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “Tom Torlakson comes out of the teaching ranks, with a vision of public education consistent with ours.”

A 30-second ad paid for by the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, in which men in suits act like they’re repossessing a classroom, says that Tuck, “a Wall Street banker, is backed by interests that would turn our schools over to for-profit corporations motivated by money.”

The Tuck campaign called it an “over-the-top smear” that refers to a banking job Tuck had his first two years out of college.

Pechthalt said the ad “is intended to make a point about forces and money behind the Tuck campaign.” It’s “consistent with the corporate reform movement that, at the end of the day, looks to privatize and charterize public education and put hundreds of billions in their pockets.”

“The message is accurate even if elements are fanciful,” he said.

Six-figure donors for Tuck

Twenty people have contributed at least $100,000 to Parents and Teachers for Tuck for Superintendent, the main independent expenditure committee backing Tuck that formed only this month and quickly amassed $9.6 million.

Most are Californians. They include:

  • Doris Fisher, co-founder of GAP Inc. and a major donor to KIPP, the nation’s largest charter organization;
  • Michael Bloomberg, whose priorities as New York City mayor included school reform and charter school expansion;
  • Arthur Rock, an early Silicon Valley investor and a funder of the charter school network Rocketship Education;
  • Carrie Penner, an heir to the Wal-Mart family fortune and vice chair of the California Charter Schools Association;
  • Alice Walton, from Mineral Wells, Texas, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a Walton Family Foundation board member;
  • Cyrus Hadidi, a partner in the Los Angeles investment firm JMB Capital, and a board member of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the schools that Tuck ran before running for state superintendent;
  • Susan Chamberlin, an architect who co-founded Chamberlin Associates and the Chamberlin Family Foundation, which funds projects in the West Contra Costa Unified School District as well as Teach For America and charter organizations;
  • Eli Broad, founder of The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation and supporter of reform efforts in Los Angeles, including the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools;
  • William Bloomfield, a retired business executive;
  • Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and co-founder of College Track, a nonprofit in a half-dozen cities that helps minority kids get into college;
  • Julian Robertson, a retired hedge fund manager from New York who formed the Robertson Foundation, which funds public school reform, including charter schools and voucher programs, that serve “disadvantaged communities.”

Of these donors, only Bloomfield and Steve Chamberlin, on behalf of his wife Susan, who was out of the country, responded to questions about why they have donated to Tuck.

Top contributor speaks out

Bloomfield is at this point the single biggest donor to the campaign: a total of $3.5 million, including $2.25 million to Partners and Teachers for Tuck. A graduate of Palisades High School in Los Angeles and UC Berkeley, he ran a family-owned commercial laundry equipment company before retiring in 2006. He lives in Manhattan Beach and writes a blog that included a recent piece on why he and his wife give so much to political campaigns. It’s simple when it comes to Tuck, he said in an interview.

William Bloomfield

William Bloomfield

“I want great public schools that teach kids skills they need to have a good life in the 21st century – nothing more than that,” he said. He doesn’t have a solution to fixing schools and hasn’t given “a whole lot to charters,” he said, adding, “I have no skin in the game.”

But he said liked what he heard when he met Tuck and was impressed with what he did running Green Dot and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Accused by Tuck opponents of opposing temporary taxes under Proposition 30, Bloomfield said he supported the alternative tax increase, Proposition 38. “I don’t mind high taxes if you get value for it – if kids in this state were getting an opportunity that my generation had.”

“I want great public schools that teach kids skills they need to have a good life in the 21st century – nothing more than that,” said William Bloomfield.  “I have no skin in the game.”

Steve and Susan Chamberlin each gave the maximum contribution – $13,200 – directly to the Tuck campaign, and Susan was listed as the donor of $100,000 to the independent committee for Tuck, though Steve said they both agreed on the contribution.

Steve Chamberlin co-founded Chamberlin Associates, a real estate development company in the East Bay, with Susan Chamberlin, an architect. He was an adjunct professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He said they decided to back Tuck after researching both candidates and meeting Tuck. “We are not casual people” when it comes to making political decisions, he said.

They live in Richmond and have been frustrated with the low academic achievement in the West Contra Costa Unified School District and what he considers the district’s wasteful spending on facilities. In part to prove that point, he bought and rebuilt a former private school in Richmond for Summit Public Schools’ new charter. The school moved in this fall and is leasing the campus, giving the couple a 1 percent rate of return, he said. His family foundation gives to successful charter operators and the Silicon Schools Fund, which gives grants to schools for blended learning, an academic approach that incorporates technology into learning.

Chamberlin favors Tuck, he said, because he will “rock the boat,” impact legislation and balance the power of the California Teachers Association. “He’s a fresh voice and won’t sing the party line.”

Unions have funded the independent committees supporting Torlakson (Individuals haven’t given to the independent committees for Torlakson). But hundreds of individuals have contributed directly to both Tuck’s and Torlakson’s campaigns. Two of  Torlakson’s donors are Chuck McMinn, who donated $11,800 and CC Yin, who contributed $9,600.

They would disagree with Tuck’s assertion that Torlakson embodies the status quo.

McMinn, a high tech entrepreneur turned vintner, served on Torlakson’s Education Technology Task Force and his transition task force in 2010. McMinn said that Torlakson has been a big supporter of the nonprofit to which McMinn commits much of his time, NapaLearns, which is seeding project-based learning and innovative use of technology in all schools in Napa County, he said.

Torlakson has visited the flagship school, NewTech High in Napa, and advocates providing students with technology, workplace skills and experiences through internships. “The problems with schools cannot be fixed one charter school at a time,” McMinn said.

CC Yin is a Chinese immigrant who worked as an engineer before buying his first McDonald’s restaurant. He now owns 32 restaurants in 12 California cities and is based in the East Bay, which Torlakson represented in the state Legislature. Yin invited Torlakson to events when he founded the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, which runs programs in youth leadership, voter education programs and health services. Torlakson was interested in better understanding the problems facing Asian Americans, Yin said, and offered good advice. “We need encouragement,” he said.

 


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  1. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    This election is a referendum on charter schools which is the heart and soul of the modern day school reform movement. The two candidates have elucidated two different agendas for the 21st Century of public education. Voters have to ask themselves whether they want traditional public education and its heritage of the Ed Code and local union contracts or whether they want to go with the reformist vision of an education marketplace which … Read More

    This election is a referendum on charter schools which is the heart and soul of the modern day school reform movement. The two candidates have elucidated two different agendas for the 21st Century of public education. Voters have to ask themselves whether they want traditional public education and its heritage of the Ed Code and local union contracts or whether they want to go with the reformist vision of an education marketplace which explodes the old model and splits up the aging monopoly. The devil you know or a risky gambit.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      Actually, both candidates support charter schools. Initially I wasn't going to vote for either but I'll take your word for it: now that I know it's a referendum on charter schools, I know how to vote. Thanks! ;-) Anyway, charters are going to continue to proliferate and will eventually destroy the traditional model, regardless of what happens in this race, in the courtroom, or anywhere else. Despite what Abe said, even public sentiment is no … Read More

      Actually, both candidates support charter schools.
      Initially I wasn’t going to vote for either but I’ll take your word for it: now that I know it’s a referendum on charter schools, I know how to vote. Thanks! 😉
      Anyway, charters are going to continue to proliferate and will eventually destroy the traditional model, regardless of what happens in this race, in the courtroom, or anywhere else.
      Despite what Abe said, even public sentiment is no match for the invisible hand.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Navigio, I didn't say Torlakson didn't support charters, but they certainly have a very different idea about what charters should be. Here's what he said when asked: (CTA) What do you think the role of charter schools should be in California? Do you think they should be held to the same standards as public schools? (Torlakson) Charter schools can serve an important role in our educational system, and responsible ones can encourage innovative instruction.Unfortunately, the charter schools movement … Read More

        Navigio, I didn’t say Torlakson didn’t support charters, but they certainly have a very different idea about what charters should be.

        Here’s what he said when asked:

        (CTA) What do you think the role of charter schools should be in California? Do you think they should be held to the same standards as public schools?

        (Torlakson) Charter schools can serve an important role in our educational system, and responsible ones can encourage innovative instruction.Unfortunately, the charter schools movement has fought efforts to hold them accountable in the same way public schools are held accountable. That’s unacceptable

        Well, not to parse words, but if charters had to be accountable “in the same way”, it kind of defeats the purpose of charters – taking Torlakson’s words literally. At the same time, as a proponent of charters myself, i’d like to see much more definitive accountability to the school community as well as the chartering authority. So, I’m kind of in Torlakson’s camp for more accountability, but not “in the same way” , which is self-defeating. Accountability comes on many forms.

        I’d go a step further and get rid of the 13% of for-profit charters. As for “the charter schools movement”, let’s remember that nationwide ( not sure about CA) over 2/3 of charters are stand alone independents.

        Got to run.

  2. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 2 years ago2 years ago

    Two stories from three and five years ago -- that's evidence of something? My three damning stats about highest teacher salaries, largest classroom size and near-bottom funding per student ARE the same today as long ago and that's literally a crying shame. And finally, I happen to know Angela Bass whose name you take in vain: she is a dedicated superb educator, an African-American woman with a spiritual streak a mile wide -- a blessing … Read More

    Two stories from three and five years ago — that’s evidence of something? My three damning stats about highest teacher salaries, largest classroom size and near-bottom funding per student ARE the same today as long ago and that’s literally a crying shame.

    And finally, I happen to know Angela Bass whose name you take in vain: she is a dedicated superb educator, an African-American woman with a spiritual streak a mile wide — a blessing to everyone who knows her.

    Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Education.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Frances: Re your "stats:" You do endlessly repeat the canard--a pretty ordinary propaganda technique-- about high teachers salaries in CA. The RAND Corp says otherwise. In cost -of-living weighted dollars CA teachers salaries are "below the national average." You can argue with RAND, I guess. Largest class-sizes are, obviously, a function of "near bottom funding-per student." The only recent remedy to the low funding the state provides for schools has been Prop 30. That was (primarily) a collaboration … Read More

      Frances:

      Re your “stats:”

      You do endlessly repeat the canard–a pretty ordinary propaganda technique– about high teachers salaries in CA. The RAND Corp says otherwise. In cost -of-living weighted dollars CA teachers salaries are “below the national average.” You can argue with RAND, I guess.

      Largest class-sizes are, obviously, a function of “near bottom funding-per student.” The only recent remedy to the low funding the state provides for schools has been Prop 30. That was (primarily) a collaboration between the Governor and the teachers’ unions. Since funding is such a concern of yours, I’ll trust you are highly appreciative of
      the unions’ collective actions. (You are welcome!)

      [Note: There are several recent posts to this site re the difficulties the state is having in recruiting new teachers. I can only assume you would not suggest lowering teachers’ already meager compensation would help to “remedy” that situation? Of course not.]

      The two articles from the LA Times are just what’s on the public record as to Tuck’s real life performance in school related–NOT actual in-school–experience. Tuck has never really worked at the school and classroom level. Tuck hustled off of the education scene after Villarigosa left office in LA, much the same way Rhee bailed out of DC after her political enabler left office.Tuck was the LA mayor’s henchman at PLAS and PLAS was an utter failure. I will say that other parts of the public record show Tuck was a big supporter of Deasy and we all know how that turned out. Tuck hustled back on the scene when he was able to line up corporate and Silicon Valley dollars including lots of dollars from parties whose interests are demonstrably hostile to the interests of schools and kids. The evidence of that being their “dark money” plotting against Prop 30.

      As I said, Tuck’s management style is summed up as being “haphazard, confusing, non-communcative,[and] top-down.” Those of us who have familiarized ourselves with contemporary and high-functioning management techniques as well as with school reform efforts around the country that have actually worked understand immediately that Tuck’s described style is the antithesis of what is really needed in the state. Those who also understand these things will vote for Torlakson.

    • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

      So has Marshall Tuck stated that teacher salaries in California are too high, as his supporter Ms. Zimmerman implies?

      This article says there’s a teacher shortage in California. My understanding is that Tuck is a believer in free-market principles. According to the most basic free-market principles, if there’s a teacher shortage, it decisively indicates that teacher salaries are too low. Can any Tuck supporter clarify this apparently contradiction?

  3. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Someone once said, a little facetiously I would assume, that "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Well, no small minds by that definition at the LA Times, who have editors who don't read their own commentary and news stories. Excerpted below find two articles form the LA Times. The first relates to the failure of Tuck's PLAS schools to really exhibit the kinds of improvement he claims. The second is a commentary on Tuck's … Read More

    Someone once said, a little facetiously I would assume, that “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Well, no small minds by that definition at the LA Times, who have editors who don’t read their own commentary and news stories. Excerpted below find two articles form the LA Times. The first relates to the failure of Tuck’s PLAS schools to really exhibit the kinds of improvement he claims. The second is a commentary on Tuck’s “management style,” if management makes any kind of sense here. Like the idea of “haphazard, confusing, non-communcative, top-down” school leadership? Read and vote on Tuesday!

    L.A. Unified bests reform groups in most cases, data show
    August 18, 2011|By Howard Blume and Sandra PoindexterLos Angeles Times

    In a surprising challenge to four school reform efforts run by outside organizations, the Los Angeles school district has not only held its own in improving math and English test scores, but in most cases outpaced the others, according to a Times analysis of the city’s lowest-performing schools.

    The district’s showing was even more surprising given that its schools didn’t benefit from outside funding and other extra resources brought in by reform groups for their schools.

    One of the most striking comparisons was with a group of schools under the control of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The mayor’s schools — elementary, middle and high schools — all improved less than the district’s by some key measures.

    Those schools are, in many ways, the ultimate litmus test for local school improvement.
    Three years later, the scores at many of these schools remain poor — often extremely so.

    STEVE LOPEZ
    Roosevelt High teachers give the Education Mayor a failing grade
    May 20, 2009|STEVE LOPEZ

    With 199 teachers casting a ballot, 184 expressed no confidence in the mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS).
    Is “rebuke” a strong enough word?

    How about “revolt”?
    Decision-making by PLAS administrators is irritatingly haphazard and confusing, said English teacher Rebecca Lizardi.

    The teachers told me many of their colleagues at other PLAS schools are equally lathered up.
    “They’re furious,” Lizardi said.

    I did get a hold of PLAS officials Marshall Tuck and Angela Bass, and they were rather cooperative, I have to say. Yes, they admitted, there are grievances of varying degrees at PLAS schools, and they did indeed take a whomping from the teachers at Roosevelt with that landslide vote of no confidence.

    “They’re unhappy with the work of the partnership, and they told it to us loud and clear,” Tuck said.

    I have a summary of that meeting, by the way, including complaints from teachers.

    They blast PLAS administrators for “top-down” decision-making “with little involvement of or respect for the teachers, community, students.”

    They tell bosses: “Your role is not clearly defined and it is not known by most teachers.”

    They decry a lack of communication and transparency, complaining of closed-door decision-making.

  4. navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

    When we begin to measure the value of a public position in terms of nothing more than a moral victory for either of the ‘sides’, I expect it’s time to think about whether we should even have such a position.

    The only thing that all this money has convinced me of is that I should be even more skeptical of the ‘wisdom’ of the people willing to dump their money into it.

  5. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 2 years ago2 years ago

    Marshall Tuck for California Superintendent of Public Instruction because he is NOT a termed-out state legislator place-holder for the interests of the powerful California Teachers' Association which has underwritten with millions of dollars every Torlakson campaign for public office since he got into the politics business many years ago. California has the highest teachers' salaries in the nation and the biggest class sizes and near-lowest spending per student in the entire United States. In 2014 … Read More

    Marshall Tuck for California Superintendent of Public Instruction because he is NOT a termed-out state legislator place-holder for the interests of the powerful California Teachers’ Association which has underwritten with millions of dollars every Torlakson campaign for public office since he got into the politics business many years ago.

    California has the highest teachers’ salaries in the nation and the biggest class sizes and near-lowest spending per student in the entire United States. In 2014 California has more poor children and English language learners than ever before, but the first three facts are still the order of the day. What’s wrong with this picture?

    We need a change at the top. Marshall Tuck for California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Give public school kids a chance.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

      Education "reformers" such as Tuck consistently disagree with the view that smaller class sizes are beneficial, while teachers' unions consistently call for smaller class sizes. Ms. Zimmerman, are you disagreeing with "reformers" such as Tuck and agreeing with teachers' unions on this point? Read More

      Education “reformers” such as Tuck consistently disagree with the view that smaller class sizes are beneficial, while teachers’ unions consistently call for smaller class sizes. Ms. Zimmerman, are you disagreeing with “reformers” such as Tuck and agreeing with teachers’ unions on this point?

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Caroline, you consistently deny there is any harm done to children when they get bad teachers. You should read this month's Time Magazine. The lifetime earnings hit to an entire elementary school class from a bottom tier teacher is $250,000. But you just go quiet and disappear in the face of these facts and speak up if a teacher is ever unfairly criticized or fired, or even as to the remote possibility … Read More

        Caroline, you consistently deny there is any harm done to children when they get bad teachers. You should read this month’s Time Magazine. The lifetime earnings hit to an entire elementary school class from a bottom tier teacher is $250,000. But you just go quiet and disappear in the face of these facts and speak up if a teacher is ever unfairly criticized or fired, or even as to the remote possibility any teacher may theoretically ever be fired by an unfair principal as if none of the teachers who will be fired will have it coming. You even refuse to simply state it is morally wrong to miss work if it could be avoided and you are not sick. There are a lot of facts you choose to ignore, just out of convenience.

        A great teacher can hold the attention of 40 and a bad teacher can be lost with 12. All things being equal, smaller class sizes are good, but I didn’t see any appreciable problem when my kids’ K-3 Classes went from 20 to 22, as generally 22 means 20. I don’t think my children were significantly harmed by this, but I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt my children were hurt by being taught by bad teachers who were only still on the job because the union fought for them and made them into a victim/noble cause, which they were NOT. My children were severely hurt by this, but you pretend that doesn’t happen.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Just like I thought, whenever there is a study or fact which contradicts or disproves your all teachers are noble and wonderful and put children's futures first world view, you go to la la land and pretend it doesn't exist or never happened or is a one off anomaly. Proof that paying a teacher 70-80k who is bad can actually cost 250k over a lifetime for all the students? Contrary to world view. … Read More

        Just like I thought, whenever there is a study or fact which contradicts or disproves your all teachers are noble and wonderful and put children’s futures first world view, you go to la la land and pretend it doesn’t exist or never happened or is a one off anomaly. Proof that paying a teacher 70-80k who is bad can actually cost 250k over a lifetime for all the students? Contrary to world view. How about those Giants. La la la la la la land. How convenient!

  6. E.O.Eastland 2 years ago2 years ago

    The Superintendent of Public Instruction COULD be a catalyst for the best type of reform at this very important time. Torlakson hasn't and Tuck doesn't talk about....working to establish resources, lessons, materials for teachers and students to use that actually build learning, regardless of the test used. They COULD be reinforcing research based methods of teaching reading to early readers, building family strategies for oral language development, providing demos of how children express their understanding … Read More

    The Superintendent of Public Instruction COULD be a catalyst for the best type of reform at this very important time. Torlakson hasn’t and Tuck doesn’t talk about….working to establish resources, lessons, materials for teachers and students to use that actually build learning, regardless of the test used. They COULD be reinforcing research based methods of teaching reading to early readers, building family strategies for oral language development, providing demos of how children express their understanding of math,helping parents understand, curating digital resources…and so much more. We need candidates who will do more of THIS….so tired of this other pure politics baloney. Do something about learning, please.

    Replies

    • Cleo Lorne 2 years ago2 years ago

      The LA Times endorsement of Tuck says “Tuck also has many smart new ideas, including small grants to highly respected teachers to produce online videos that help coach other teachers and model outstanding instruction.”

      We do need more of this type of thinking.

      • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

        Schools already have access to this if a district is interested. It isn’t anything new. See TheTeachingChannel. But watching and doing are very different.

  7. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    Indeed, the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has little power over how public education is run in California. But it can serve, as the CTA rep's quote spells out, as a bully pulpit for those who think they know better than the rest of us just because they have more money. What? You thought it was really about what is wrong with California schools? Nah, it's about what they think is best for our children, … Read More

    Indeed, the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has little power over how public education is run in California.

    But it can serve, as the CTA rep’s quote spells out, as a bully pulpit for those who think they know better than the rest of us just because they have more money. What? You thought it was really about what is wrong with California schools? Nah, it’s about what they think is best for our children, not theirs.

    The bottom line is that the Usual Suspects want a win that will give them a chance to have a four-year hold on promoting their beliefs as mouthed by their fully-paid-for spokesman. It’s just another gig for Mr. Tuck, just as it was to run PLAS for them.

    Of course, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Tuck will execute the policies enacted by the California State Board of Education, which is a creature of the Governor and the Legislature. Provided he wins, of course. (Did the Schwarzenegger Board “fix” education? As Caroline often suggests, discuss among yourselves.)

    It will make for interesting drama. Popcorn, anyone?

    Replies

    • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

      Manuel,

      Up to now the whole point of public education has been to tell other people’s children what they should be learnng. I suspect people from all parts of the political spectrum have felt the same frustration you expressed.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Great point, Paul, if it wasn't for the inconvenient fact that schools are (still) primarily directed by democratically elected local school boards. Now that" inconvenience" is meant to be done away with by Reed Hastings, another of the long list of fans of private sector managed charter schools, who has publicly stated that democratically elected boards need to be done away with and replaced by "corporate type management." The list of Tuck supporters, so generously … Read More

        Great point, Paul, if it wasn’t for the inconvenient fact that schools are (still) primarily directed by democratically elected local school boards. Now that” inconvenience” is meant to be done away with by Reed Hastings, another of the long list of fans of private sector managed charter schools, who has publicly stated that democratically elected boards need to be done away with and replaced by “corporate type management.”

        The list of Tuck supporters, so generously provided by EdSource, makes the agenda abundantly clear. Real public schools will be replaced, where the harvest of public dollars is most convenient, by school management organizations like the failed Rocketship model.

        We also have another instance of big outside money, similar to the attempt to influence the board election in LA, coming in to buy the election.

        The final nails in the coffin of the “reformy” agenda are the same names found on the list above who can also be found in the LA Times expose of the “Dark Money” scandal. The same people who support Tuck surreptitiously tried to torpedo Prop 30, the drastically need school funding measure.

        • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

          Shifting focus to local school boards does not change the validity of my point. Many people have expressed much frustration with local school board decisions in this forum and others. The one I recall first is John Deasy's work in LAUSD in particular the apparent iPad fiasco. There has been much talk that there were better ways to spend that money. But rest assured I have no more interest in arbitrary corporate control … Read More

          Shifting focus to local school boards does not change the validity of my point. Many people have expressed much frustration with local school board decisions in this forum and others. The one I recall first is John Deasy’s work in LAUSD in particular the apparent iPad fiasco. There has been much talk that there were better ways to spend that money.

          But rest assured I have no more interest in arbitrary corporate control vs. other forms of arbitrary control. I’d much rather see schools evolve to a method of flexible education. You can see the work of Charles Taylor Kerchner to see what I am thinking in general.

          • Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

            Thank you for excellent perspective including flexible education and Charles Kerchner, Paul. My perspective has been that public education is stuck in the colonial era where there were a few learned individuals in a community (schoolteachers) and a few books and all the kids had to come together en mass in a schoolhouse to learn from those limited resources, because resources and technology of the era allowed no alternatives. Kerchner helped me to see that public … Read More

            Thank you for excellent perspective including flexible education and Charles Kerchner, Paul.

            My perspective has been that public education is stuck in the colonial era where there were a few learned individuals in a community (schoolteachers) and a few books and all the kids had to come together en mass in a schoolhouse to learn from those limited resources, because resources and technology of the era allowed no alternatives.

            Kerchner helped me to see that public education, while still stuck in some colonial era technological roots, had progressed to where the process model was only 100 years old, the era of Henry Ford and mass production of automobiles on assembly lines. What Kerchner refers to as the “batch process” model. An era that gave rise to the quote attributed to Ford, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” In this model of education, batches of same age kids are run through assembly line processes.

            We are more than at the point where existing technology has the potential to transform and individualize education, freeing the students from being processed in batches that may fit some, but definitely doesn’t fit all.

            Does flexible education work in real life? Yes, we used it in homeschooling our kids K-12. Despite our clumsiness in the process, it produced exceptional individualized academic achievement and self-discipline that carried the kids through various colleges and universities with highest honors. Our technology was rudimentary compared to what is available today. Instead of listening to a local HS teacher talk about physics to a mostly bored class of kids tired of sitting all day in rows of hard plastic chairs, our kids used resources such as videos by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. Much more is possible, and interactively, today.

            Hidebound unionists will oppose this technological revolution out of fear that it will diminish the role of union teachers, especially those of a narcissistic bent who might crave to be the center of attention in a classroom. But the shift will require teachers of the highest levels of intellect and resourcefulness, and some who are long tenured will not be up to making the shift. I happened to be attending a major automaker’s technician school when electronic technology began to dominate automobiles as well as auto diagnosis. Old time high school counselors would coach certain poor achievers to become auto mechanics in those days, because it was intellectually undemanding. That all changed with the emergence and use of higher technology in autos, and only relatively resourceful and intelligent candidates could understand and use the sophisticated technology. Those less resourceful were not up to the changing job.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            While it's possible to argue we are stuck in some bygone era, I don't see how it's possible to define it as a progressive one rooted in an assembly line methodology (the former not only predated Henry Ford, but is even the antithesis of assembly line in its focus on personalization and teacher and student specific methodology). I also believe, in the US, grade levels predated the progressive education movement by almost half a century. … Read More

            While it’s possible to argue we are stuck in some bygone era, I don’t see how it’s possible to define it as a progressive one rooted in an assembly line methodology (the former not only predated Henry Ford, but is even the antithesis of assembly line in its focus on personalization and teacher and student specific methodology).
            I also believe, in the US, grade levels predated the progressive education movement by almost half a century.
            I expect in a competitive and aggressive culture like ours, maintaining physical parity within student groups (for perceived ‘safety’ reasons) is going to far outweigh any desire to remove ‘grade processing’ of students, not to mention the impact that would have on perceived equality of opportunity.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Paul: That's why we have elections. For the techy advocates. Below from Larry Cuban of Stanford. [excerpted] Framing the School Technology Dream Larry Cuban Education Week. April 17, 2013. For more than a century, educational technology ads have glistened with hope. Newly invented devices from the typewriter to film projectors, from the overhead projector to instructional television, from the Apple IIe to the iPad, have painted pictures of engaged students who will learn more, faster, and … Read More

            Paul:

            That’s why we have elections.

            For the techy advocates. Below from Larry Cuban of Stanford. [excerpted]

            Framing the School Technology Dream
            Larry Cuban Education Week. April 17, 2013.

            For more than a century, educational technology ads have glistened with hope. Newly invented devices from the typewriter to film projectors, from the overhead projector to instructional television, from the Apple IIe to the iPad, have painted pictures of engaged students who will learn more, faster, and better. They have pictured teachers using new technologies to teach effectively. Of course, it is the nature of advertising to promise a rosier future, appealing to what policymakers, administrators, and, yes, parents yearn for … a better, easier, and even enjoyable way for teachers and students to teach and learn. And that is what these ads do. They assure readers that both teachers and students will be better off using these machines.

            Take the Royal Portable typewriter ad from over a half-century ago that shows a joyful teenager looking at a report card with Mom and Dad in the background beaming. The ad announces: “A new Royal Portable can raise her marks up to 38%.” The first paragraph adds: “It happens every day! Many so called ‘slow students’ learn to type and then show up on the honor roll.”

            Sure, it’s easy to analyze and even poke fun at ads for high-tech devices ranging from overhead projectors in the 1930s to interactive whiteboards in the early 2000s. I do not want to do that. Instead, I will ask two simple questions about these ads: Who are they aimed at? Why do these ads for new technological devices over the past half-century have these constant dreams of students learning and teachers teaching more, faster, and better?

            The answer to the first question is easy. An overwhelming majority of such ads are directed toward those who have the money to buy these devices: school board members, administrators, and parents. The claims for the new technology, including visuals of engaged students and the prospect of higher achievement at less cost, clearly attract school policymakers and administrators. For parents who seek an edge for their children in climbing the ladder to economic and social success in life, these machines shine with that promise. “I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years, it will supplant … the use of textbooks. … I should say that on the average we get about 2 percent efficiency out of schoolbooks. … The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture where it should be possible to obtain 100 percent efficiency.”

            Those who produce ad copy and images for the newest laptop, tablet, and smartphone, aimed at enabling students to learn more, faster, and better at less cost, tap into a technology-filled past where heroes spun dreams of using the newest of new tools to advance both the individual and society

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            Well, Paul, it isn't so simple. Deasy did what he did because the same Usual Suspects backing Tuck were behind Deasy in cowing the Board. It took the implosion of Jefferson HS and the public fallout for the Board to find the intestinal fortitude to say enough is enough. If Mr. Tuck wins, it will be because these Usual Suspects are not giving up in manipulating public education, which, while not perfect, I prefer it to what … Read More

            Well, Paul, it isn’t so simple.

            Deasy did what he did because the same Usual Suspects backing Tuck were behind Deasy in cowing the Board.

            It took the implosion of Jefferson HS and the public fallout for the Board to find the intestinal fortitude to say enough is enough.

            If Mr. Tuck wins, it will be because these Usual Suspects are not giving up in manipulating public education, which, while not perfect, I prefer it to what Mr. Tuck “managed.” None of the “targets” they claimed to have were met. So what’s the point of talking about pie-in-the-sky when they can’t deliver it? All the evidence indicates that these people are just climbing the ladder on the backs of students attending public schools. Why else would they moving up?

            Like I wrote above, it will make for interesting drama if Mr. Tuck wins. Hopefully, I’ll be there to “tell you so.”

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            Gary,

            Yes.

            And thank goodness for the Bill of Rights.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Good point Manuel. I'm surprised there hasn't been more focus on what the model achieved (ie didn't achieve) when given the chance, because if the story's claim is true this is really about that model. Note also that some vergara plaintiffs witnesses were Williams defense witnesses. And there was a whole lot of discussion in that trial about what the model should look like. A Jeannie Oakes version of 'shocks the conscience' anyone? Read More

            Good point Manuel. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more focus on what the model achieved (ie didn’t achieve) when given the chance, because if the story’s claim is true this is really about that model.
            Note also that some vergara plaintiffs witnesses were Williams defense witnesses. And there was a whole lot of discussion in that trial about what the model should look like. A Jeannie Oakes version of ‘shocks the conscience’ anyone?

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Paul:

            You support the Bill of Rights? And what is your stand on motherhood and apple pie?

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            Forgot the flag, Gary!!!

            (And what about sweet potato pie? I like it better than apple pie.)

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            CRUNCH TIME!

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            Oh, and I support education too 🙂

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