November 23, 2018

With finally a winner declared in the race for state superintendent of public instruction, Louis and John look at some of the forces that propelled Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D- Richmond, to victory over Marshall Tuck after trailing in the vote-count on Election Day.

Votes are still being counted, but in the latest tally on Nov. 24, Thurmond was leading Tuck by 1.8 percentage points, or 182,000 votes. He now has a chance to help shape the nation’s largest school system — one with nearly 10,000 schools and more than 6 million public school children.

The race was marked by total spending of over $60 million — much of it spent on political ads, several of which were harshly negative ones.

Ads saying Thurmond had been sued by the ACLU for many problems in the school district where he had served as a school board member were misleading or false, according to analyses by PolitiFact and EdSource, as were ads that he had been “reprimanded” by the Obama administration for the district’s failure to adequately respond to assault and sexual harassment charges by students and others in the district.

Similarly, ads intended to link Tuck to President Trump and suggesting that Tuck had been endorsed by Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos were also misleading and false, according to similar analyses.

In the final analysis, what may have made the difference in Thurmond’s victory was the “blue wave” that brought millions of new voters to the polls.

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, our podcast producer Shuka Kalantari interviewed Maryam Abdullah, a developmental psychologist and parenting program director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, who cites the benefits of raising a grateful child and offers practical tips for integrating gratitude into children’s daily living. 

For background on the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction:  

Tips for promoting gratitude in children  — year round:

How to help children, teachers and families cope with the Paradise fire: