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Assemblyman Tony Thurmond enters state superintendent race by vowing to fight Trump, DeVos

Sarah Favot | April 3, 2017

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State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond. (Courtesy).

State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond. (Courtesy)

State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond on Monday announced he will run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018, setting up a fight between Northern and Southern California as well as a union vs. reform battle.

Thurmond vowed to fight the agenda of President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and to secure more funding for California students.

Thurmond, D-Richmond, is in his second term in the Legislature representing a San Francisco Bay Area district. He will compete against Marshall Tuck, an LA resident and another Democrat who announced his run for the seat last month and is the only other competitor so far. In 2014, Tuck lost a close race against incumbent state Superintendent Tom Torlakson, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

Thurmond was endorsed by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers in his Assembly campaigns in 2014 and 2016.

In 2014, the state superintendent race was the most expensive on the ballot as education reformers and charter school supporters spent millions to back Tuck, while Torlakson had the backing of teachers unions.

In a statement, Thurmond called out California’s low ranking compared to other states in per pupil spending, an issue also brought up by Tuck when he announced his run.

“It’s time to make our public education system among the greatest in the nation. I won’t stop until we get there,” Thurmond said. “I will put in place innovative strategies to reform California’s schools. We must close the achievement gap, and I will work to provide rigorous educational opportunities for all students at all levels.

“But have no doubt — fighting for education starts with opposing the efforts by President Trump and Betsy DeVos to defund our public schools. 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.”

Trump has called for cuts to the federal Education Department budget including funding for after-school programs. He has called for more money for school choice programs, like private school vouchers and charter schools.

Thurmond also announced he has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who called him “an unwavering voice for change.”

Thurmond was a social worker and served on the West Contra Costa Unified School Board for four years and the Richmond City Council before he was elected to the state Assembly.

This year, he has sponsored Assembly Bill 45 which would give school districts state money to build teacher housing as a way to attract and retain qualified teachers.

In the Assembly, he serves on the Education Committee and chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education.

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