Assemblymember Tony Thurmond to run for state schools superintendent

Joyce Tsai, East Bay Times   ·   Link to Article

Vowing to fight against the Trump administration’s agenda of defunding public schools, state Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, announced on Monday that is he running for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018.

Thurmond represents California’s 15th Assembly District, which includes the East Bay communities of Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland. He has already secured the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris for the top education post.

“Fighting for education starts with opposing the efforts by President Trump and Betsy DeVos to defund our public schools,” he said in a statement.”I will fight the Trump agenda to gut our public schools at every step. California needs to be ready to face this crisis head on.”

Marshall Tuck, a Southern Californian charter school advocate who lost a bid for the position in 2014, has also announced his intention to run in 2018. Tuck, a native of Burlingame, has criticized teacher tenure laws and promised to reinvent the state superintendent’s office so it is more accountable to parents, rather than insiders. The primary is in June 2018.

Thurmond also said that he plans to fight the status quo by restoring funding to the state’s public education system, adopting innovative strategies to reform schools and closing the achievement gap. Earlier this month he introduced Assembly Bill 43, which if passed, would tax companies that do business with California prisons as a way to raise money for preschool programs and reduce incarceration rates. He also introduced Assembly Bill 45, which calls for the state to provide financial assistance to school districts for teacher housing and other incentives to address the teacher shortage.

“There was a time when California schools were the nation’s best,” he said. “Now, by most accounts, California ranks 41st in the nation in per-pupil spending. It’s time to make our public education system among the greatest in the nation. I won’t stop until we get there.”

Calling Thurmond “a lifelong advocate for children and young adults across the state,” Harris credited him in a statement with passing legislation to reduce truancy rates in kindergarten to third grade, working to ensure that foster youth receive every opportunity for success and coaching incarcerated teens in life skills.

Thurmond serves on the Assembly’s education committee and chairs its select committee on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. He also served on the Richmond City Council from 2005 to 2008 and on the West Contra Costa Unified School District board from 2008 to 2012. He also worked for more than 20 years as a social worker.