Newly-elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joins us to preview the new state budget and identify his priorities for California’s schools in 2019.
Here are some highlights from his conversation with Insight guest host Randol White.
On working with Gov. Gavin Newsom on education
“I've known the governor for many years from his days back to local government and mine as well. And I appreciate having a governor who campaigned on talking about big ideas that we can implement to improve early education and K-12 education and higher education. I am hopeful. I know that there are great expectations. I know that we've got to be mindful that the economy may change but I think that we've got the right governor at the right time who will be an education governor.”
On his own experience in public schools
“The greatest public program that I ever experienced was getting a great education. And my teachers invested in me. In spite of humble beginnings and moving around and how easy would have been for me to fall through the cracks, I didn't because my teachers really invested in me and let me know that my life would be different then it started. And that education carried me to a chance to get a college education and a 20 year career helping other young people as a social worker and to be in elected office for the last 12 years and to now have the greatest job anywhere, elected to support six million students in the state. I want all kids to have those kinds of opportunities as I did. Education literally saved my life.”
On California’s charter school system
“Charter schools are supposed to be learning labs of innovation and some charter schools have been that… I think that we have to really have a balanced conversation as it relates to charters. Perhaps now is a time to take a pause on the growth of any new charter school. I will work hard to support all students in all of our schools right now, in our charter public schools and our traditional public schools. But right now we've got to tackle the issue of resources. And every time you open a new school without providing resources, you're also taking away resources from another school that's working to get better. Charter school law has not been revisited for a couple of decades. California has a very ambitious charter environment and movement. And I think we've got to take some time to figure out what's going to be best for California education overall.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.