Citing Need to Protect Public Schools From Trump, State Lawmaker From Richmond Announces Bid for Highest Education Job in State

State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, announced Monday that he is running for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. 

Thurmond has represented California’s 15th Assembly District, which includes Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland, since 2014. In his campaign kick-off message, he vowed to safeguard schools from looming threats of defunding from the Trump administration, if elected. 

“Fighting for education starts with opposing the efforts by President Trump and Betsy DeVos to defund our public schools,” he wrote. “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.” 

Thurmond is a familiar face in the Bay Area education circuit. He previously served as the superintendent of the West Contra Costa County School Board, where he was a liaison with the Contra Costa County school board.

In his campaign message, he credits education with being “the great equalizer” that allowed him to overcome obstacles in his youth and become a social worker by the young age of 20. 

The Monterey native and Richmond transplant cited mushrooming classroom sizes and a lack of qualified teachers as creating a “crisis” within the state's public school system, which was rated among the bottom 10 from an annual national assessment. In mid-March, he introduced Assembly Bill 45, which calls on the state to give financial assistance to schools for teacher housing to reduce the teacher shortage. 

In his statement, Thurmond also touted an education plan that creates internships with tech companies and promotes the advancement of STEM curriculum.

“California is the cradle of modern technology,” he said. “... I believe that we need to ensure each California student has the resources they need to develop their capabilities in science, technology engineering and math to succeed.” 

Thurmond has already snagged the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris for the position. He will likely be running against Marshall Tuck, a Southern California charter school proponent who announced plans to run in mid-March. 

Tuck, who lost to current Superintendent Tom Torlakson in 2014 in one of the most expensive races that year, is running on a campaign that advocates for quicker dismissal processes for teachers and proposes using student test scores to evaluate teachers. 

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