Tony Thurmond is California’s 28th and current State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He has been a lifelong educator, public school parent, and public servant who has served the people of California for sixteen years in elected office.  At every step, Tony has kept California's kids as his top priority. He knows how to get things done and get results.

Tony is the first Afro-Latino to serve as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. Tony’s mother was an immigrant from Panama who came to San Jose, California, to be a teacher.  Tony’s father was a U.S. soldier who didn’t return to his family after the Vietnam War.  Tony met him for the first time when he was an adult.  After Tony’s mother died when he was 6, Tony and his brother were raised by a cousin who they had never met until they showed up on her doorstep.

Tony’s family struggled to overcome poverty and grew up on public programs like the Free Lunch Program, food stamps, and donations of government cheese. Tony grew up thinking college was out of reach. But with the help of his amazing cousin, supportive teachers, and strong public education, Tony became student body president at Temple University and went on to earn two master's degrees at Bryn Mawr College.

Since then, he has been a life-long advocate for youth and families. He spent 12 years working in schools and started his career working with at-risk youth, running after-school programs in Alameda County, leading school-based mental health programs, and teaching life skills and civics.  

Prior to his election as State Superintendent, Tony was a Councilmember in the City of Richmond from 2005 to 2008, a school board member on the West Contra Costa County Unified School board from 2008 to 2012, and a State Assemblymember from 2014 to 2018.

Tony has two daughters who attend California public schools. Tony’s commitment to California public schools is grounded in creating a more inclusive place for his daughters’ generation and beyond.

Accomplishments

In Sacramento, Tony has focused on equity and promoting academic success for students of all backgrounds as his guiding North Star to transform and improve California’s public schools.

Tony kept his promise from four years ago to prioritize public education with record investments in our school system, including securing over $6 billion in the last two years to fund comprehensive support services for students, teacher recruitment, and bilingual learning programs and work towards achieving universal preschool for all four-year-olds and universal meals for hungry students.

In his first term, Tony committed to making sure school is safe for all students in an increasingly diverse California. He worked to address implicit bias in schools, train teachers and administrators on how to support LGBTQ students, develop an inclusive ethnic studies curriculum, and close the achievement gap.

When COVID-19 disrupted our school system and unveiled a major digital divide, Tony worked to ensure all students would have the necessary tools to stay connected to their educators, counselors, and school staff. He secured over a million computers for students, helped secure $6 billion to get high-speed internet access to all kids across the state, and pushed service providers to supply low-cost, high-speed internet to students.

During the pandemic, Tony Thurmond led the way for California’s public schools to reopen safely. He made five million COVID rapid testing kits available at no cost to schools and administered an additional $5.2 billion for COVID-19 school relief that provided everything from computers to mental health counseling to personal protective equipment so that students could get back to learning, safely.

Tony believes that we need to spend more money on schools, not prisons. He fought for more money to invest in education and allocated millions of dollars to schools to use for programs to reduce chronic absenteeism and suspensions. 

List of Accomplishments in Tony's First Term:

In his first term, Tony got to work to take on big challenges facing our public education system and led California public schools through one of the most difficult times of our lifetimes. Under such circumstances, he:

  • Helped to establish a multi-billion dollar COVID Recovery fund to support school re-opening.
  • Secured 5 million free rapid covid tests to assist in getting schools open.
  • Oversaw distribution of 900 million school meals through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Secured and distributed more than 2 million masks to students, families, farmworkers, tribal communities, and frontline workers.
  • Sourced 1 million computers for districts serving students in need.
  • Established and chaired the California Task Force on Closing the Digital Divide.
  • Secured low-cost, high-speed internet for thousands of families through the digital divide taskforce.
  • Raised $1 million to launch a new innovation challenge for closing the digital divide.
  • Secured $6 billion that is being used to build broadband infrastructure across the state.
  • Expanded literacy and early literacy programs, including providing $1 million in literacy grants to counties with some of the greatest literacy needs.
  • Created and oversaw a program allocating $90 million to reduce suspensions and chronic absenteeism.
  • Helped to establish and oversee the expansion of health and social service wrap-around programs (community schools) for students in need.
  • Expanded funding for educator housing programs.
  • Established a new program to address anti-racism, anti-Semitism, and bias in schools.
  • Established training programs for educators to create safe and supported spaces for LGBTQ students.
  • Increased resources and grants for schools to close the achievement/opportunity gap.
  • Established a new statewide family engagement unit to strengthen partnerships with parents and families.
  • Established the first-ever statewide youth advisory council and statewide parent advisory to advise the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the  Governor, and the  Legislature on education issues.
  • Led an effort to expand the curriculum to teach about contributions of Native American, African American, Latinx, and Asian Pacific Islander communities.
  • Led training for school districts on re-opening, expanding mental health services, and closing learning gaps.
  • Helped to establish a universal preschool program for every four-year-old.
  • Supported the development of a universal meals program for every student. 
  • Secured $10 million dollars in anti-bias training grants for schools.
  • Secured $2 million dollars in grants for schools to counter social isolation.
  • Built plan to help schools secure millions in Medi-Cal funding to expand mental health programs.