Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond managed to come from behind to emerge as California’s new superintendent of public instruction, beating out Marshall Tuck, a fellow Democrat and former Los Angeles executive of charter schools and educational nonprofits.
Thurmond sponsored California Assembly Bill 2514 which was passed in September, allocating $300,000 in grant funding to eligible schools, county offices of education and consortia to expand or initiate new dual language immersion or developmental bilingual programs.
Born in Monterey, California, Thurmond was a member of the West Contra Costa School Board from 2008 to 2012 and the Richmond City Council from 2005 to 2008. He was the council liaison to the West Contra Costa County Unified School District and the West Contra Costa County Education Fund.
Thurmond lived in San Jose, where he was raised by a single mother, a teacher from Panama, who died of cancer in 1974, when he was 6. He then moved to Philadelphia, where he was adopted and raised by his cousin and stepfather.
It took 11 days of vote counting in California for the vote to be declared.
“I want to thank the voters of California for electing me to serve the six million students of California,” Thurmond, who overrode Tuck’s broader-based appeal with decisive margins in the state’s coastal and urban counties, said in a statement.
“I ran for superintendent of public instruction to deliver to all Californians the promise that public education delivered to me—that all students, no matter their background and no matter their challenges, can succeed with a great public education.”
For pro-charter donors, the result was disappointing after spending tens of millions on the race.
Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association, commented that Thurmond’s win “sent a loud message to the billionaires and corporate special interests who spent nearly $40 million trying to buy the state superintendent’s office: Our public schools are not for sale!”