By Allie Grasgreen w/ help from Caitlin Emma and Stephanie Simon, POLITICO's Morning Education | by email
Oct 20, 2014 :: FIRST LOOK: CALIFORNIA BATTLE ESCALATES: Money has been pouring into the hard-fought race for Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. In just the last two weeks, wealthy supporters of challenger Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive deeply rooted in the education reform movement, have spent more than $4.5 million. Their website: http://bit.ly/1zh9RFQ . Incumbent Tom Torlakson, meanwhile, has benefitted from the prodigious resources of the California Teachers Association, which has spent more than $2 million in the same period. Now the American Federation of Teachers is joining the fray. The AFT's independent expenditure PAC made a six-figure digital ad buy that hits Tuck hard for the two years he spent as a Wall Street banker - and for his ongoing support from the business community.
- The video depicts an elementary school classroom that's taken over by Wall Street fat cats, who replace the blackboard with a stock ticker board, usher the teacher out the door - and even steal a little girl's lunch. ("Jelly is outstanding," one banker comments as he gulps down her sandwich.) "Marshall Tuck would sell off our schools and sell out our kids," the narrator says. Watch the ad: http://bit.ly/1t3dxrp and the related website, both produced in association with the California Federation of Teachers: http://bit.ly/1wXNvUk. There's also an ad running on Pandora that suggests Tuck is for "more tests" while Torlakson wants "more art, music and learning."
- On the campaign trail, Tuck takes offense when Torlakson refers to him as a "Wall Street banker," given that he spent just two years in the job after graduating college. The response from his campaign manager, Cynara Lilly: "No amount of childish ads or false attacks will change the fact that California schools are failing and Tom Torlakson will do anything to defend a broken status quo."