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If it wasn’t already clear enough, a debate hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) on August 24th reaffirmed that there is only one candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) who will stand strong for students, the teaching profession, and public education in California: Tony Thurmond!

Thurmond opened the debate by noting that California has one of the strongest economies in the world, yet still ranks 46th in the nation for per-pupil spending. He emphasized: “Our top priority has to be increasing funding for public education….Our kids are number one and they deserve to know that they are number one.”

In his years serving his community as a member of the state Assembly, school board trustee, and city councilman, Thurmond has always put California kids first. During the PPIC debate, Thurmond demonstrated his robust understanding of the challenges facing public education as well as a strong sense of pride for students in California. When billionaire-backed and pro-privatization candidate Marshall Tuck claimed that he would give California schools a “D grade”, Thurmond was quick to point out that students are more than just a grade.

Tony Thurmond debates Marshall Tuck at PPIC debate moderated by Mark Baldassare

Tony Thurmond debates Marshall Tuck at PPIC event moderated by Mark Baldassare

For Thurmond, protecting and improving public education for our students is not political, it’s personal. At one point during the debate, Thurmond talked about his upbringing and the impact of his education on his life, exclaiming, “I simply believe that public education can save lives. It saved mine.”

Thurmond’s commitment to ensuring California kids have the resources they need to succeed is evidenced not just from the debate, but also from his years of public service. While in the Assembly, he has:

  • Passed legislation to bring much-needed funding for school districts to keep kids in school and out of the criminal justice system
  • Fought for resources to make sure all California youth in foster care have the opportunity to go to college
  • Worked to increase funding for early education programs.

Conversely, while Tuck has made shaky claims about his support for public education, his record and his platform reveal alarming intentions:

  • Tuck cut programs for students in underserved communities while he was chief for the failed Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS)
  • Tuck supports the expansion of unregulated charter schools at the expense for neighborhood public schools
  • Tuck’s campaign fund is chockful of donations from Wall Street billionaires who support a corporate takeover of public schools

The debate between the two candidates for SPI made it all the more apparent just how crucial this race is for the future of public education in California. On November 6, be sure to cast your vote for Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Education!

Don’t stop there! Check out CTA’s campaign toolkit to help spread the word about this critical election. See the full PPIC debate below: