Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond will be California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction — but what does his victory mean for the ongoing, costly battle between teachers unions and charters schools?
The two groups spent more than $50 million on the campaign. In the end, union-backed Thurmond won over the weekend, when his lead over former charter school executive Marshall Tuck surged past 150,000 votes.
At a victory press conference on Monday, Thurmond said it's time to put a pause on opening new charter schools.
“It is a fact that the growth of charter schools in the state has had a direct impact on several districts in a financial way,” Thurmond said. “And I think we have to reconcile that.”
Charter school advocates have said a pause or complete moratorium on charters will hurt low-income communities that have academically benefited from these types of schools.
The power to block new charter schools statewide lies not with the state schools chief, but with the governor and Legislature.
Three years ago, outgoing superintendent Tom Torlakson allowed public schools to use money intended for low-income students and English language learners on teacher pay raises. Now, his successor isn't saying if he'll rescind this policy.
On Monday, Thurmond said he instead wants to focus on increasing overall school funding. “I want to make sure that we get to a conversation about funding all of public education at the level that it needs to be funded,” he said.
One of Thurmond's leading opponents during the campaign says this will be his first test. In a statement, the advocacy group EdVoice said it hopes Thurmond reverses what it calls Torlakson's “ill-advised decisions.”