Tuck, who headed Mayor Villaraigosa's education nonprofit, is also taking on the state teachers union, a powerful backer of Torlakson.
By Howard Blume, LA Times | http://lat.ms/14jihM5
Marshall Tuck, former chief of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, confirms that he will run for state school superintendent. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times / October 5, 2010)
August 21, 2013, 12:05 a.m. :: Marshall Tuck, the longtime head of a nonprofit overseeing 15 Los Angeles campuses, will run for state schools superintendent, setting up a challenge to incumbent Tom Torlakson, who has been strongly backed by California's teacher unions, The Times has learned.
Tuck confirmed in an interview that he plans to file his candidacy papers Wednesday; the election is next year.
The role of state schools chief, Tuck said, is "to ensure that we're leading fundamental change in our schools, making sure we're shaking up an education bureaucracy from one that often blocks innovation to one that's facilitating and supporting it."
In challenging Torlakson, Tuck, 40, is taking on not only an incumbent, but almost certainly one of the state's most powerful interest groups as well. In the previous campaign, the California Teachers Assn. led a coalition of union groups that spent $3.9 million on behalf of Torlakson, a former teacher.
"We have a great working relationship with Tom Torlakson," said CTA spokesman Mike Myslinski. "His experience as a classroom educator gives him invaluable insights into what works for our students and our public schools."
Torlakson, 64, has proved the union's closest ally among statewide officeholders, taking positions tightly aligned with it. The state schools' chief has few direct powers, but oversees the California Department of Education, including the testing program, and plays a key role in developing policy and legislation.
Under Torlakson and Gov. Jerry Brown — who also enjoyed teachers union support — the state has bucked national trends in education policy.
Top state officials, for example, have resisted efforts to make students' standardized test scores a major component of a teacher's performance evaluation. In this and other ways, officials have refused to make policy concessions to the Obama administration that would have resulted in increased funding, as well as freedom from some provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.
Brown and Torlakson said the trade-off wasn't worth it — that the federal requirements had huge hidden costs and promoted questionable policies.
Tuck is expected to have the support of officials and philanthropists who have taken on teachers unions in recent years. But Tuck insisted that he does not want to be seen as a union foe and said he hopes to draw from a broad base of donors. He noted that he worked with unions in his two major roles in education, as head of a charter school organization and in leading a nonprofit that was controlled by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
From 2002 through 2006, Tuck was president and chief executive of Green Dot Public Schools, which grew from one to 10 charters during his tenure. He also helped in the move to take control of Locke High School near Watts. Unlike most charters, Green Dot schools are unionized.
In 2007, Tuck became the first leader of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Villaraigosa's nonprofit. Overall, these historically low-performing schools have improved in the years since. The partnership worked under standard union contracts, but opposed the teachers union on some key issues.
Neither the two statewide teacher unions nor Torlakson's campaign had an immediate response to Tuck's candidacy.
update: BY E-MAIL
Wed, Aug 21, 2013 7:02 am
I'm running for State Superintendent - let's change California's schools
I’m excited to share the news that I’m running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction next year – a nonpartisan position that serves as California’s top education official.
As the son of a teacher and the product of public school, I believe a quality education should not be a privilege for the few – it’s every child’s right.
That's why I've spent the last 11 years leading two of California's most innovative school systems -- working with parents, principals and teachers to open new schools and turn around failing schools in some of LA’s toughest neighborhoods.
At Green Dot Public Schools and then the Partnership for LA Schools, we showed that we can educate children in even the most challenging circumstances.
But too often, I saw how Sacramento’s education bureaucracy stifles innovation, and blocks progress instead of leading the way. With a culture of regulation and resistance to change, Sacramento often makes it harder for principals and teachers to do their jobs.
And because our schools have lagged behind for so long, we’ve been lulled into accepting mediocrity and failure.
I’m running for State Superintendent because I know we can give our kids the education they need to succeed – and I refuse to make them wait any longer.
smf: Really? “Overall” is a heck of a qualifier! …and the Villaraigosa-Puck Partnership has been neither the overwhelming nor popular success promised by Education Mayor Tony at the outset. “Overall” is not even “whelming!”
From Wikipedia: “In June 2009, teachers at 8 of the ten campuses gave the partnership landslide "no confidence" votes. Steve Lopez, a columnist at the Los Angeles Times, stated that at the two other schools, a significant number of the teachers disapproved of the partnership's operations.”
As success and popularity are the coin-of-the-realm in politics – and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a political office – it’s going to take an awful lot of the coin from the likes of Broad/Gates/Riordan/Walton/Hastings/Bloomberg & Co. to produce a viable candidacy for Mr. Tuck.
And even then the track record of that sort of investment by the Billionaire Boys Club wing of ®eform, Inc. hasn’t panned out at the ballot box. Maybe Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina can throw some ca$h into the pot …making it the Billionaire Boys and Girls Club!