The race for State Superintendent of Education in California pits veteran educator Tom Torlakson–who has held the job since 2010–against Marshall Tuck, who is closely associated with the privatization movement. A third candidate, Lydia Gutierrez, is notable in the race for her opposition to Common Core. With the unions supporting Torlakson and the business sector behind Tuck, Gutierrez is considered a long shot.

The election will be held on June 3.

Gary Cohn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, profiled the two men.

Cohn writes about Marshall Tuck:

“The 40-year-old Tuck is a Harvard Business School graduate who has worked as an investment banker for Salomon Brothers and as an executive at Model N, a revenue-management software company. He is a former president of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school operation in Los Angeles, and later served as the first head of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools — former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s controversial education nonprofit that tried to improve 17 low-performing public schools, with mixed results.

“Tuck’s candidacy is supported by the same mix of wealthy education privatizers, Silicon Valley and entertainment money, hedge fund and real estate interests that backed privatization candidates in the 2013 Los Angeles Unified School District school board election — when billionaire businessmen such as Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg gave large campaign contributions to an unsuccessful effort to defeat board member Steve Zimmer. (The Broad Residency, an education management program operated by the Broad Foundation, lists Tuck as an alumnus.)”

Torlakson, by contrast, takes pride in his years as a teacher. “Torlakson is a veteran science teacher and track coach. Torlakson, who is still a teacher on leave from Contra Costa County’s Mount Diablo Unified School District, says he usually teaches one community college course every year. He was elected as California’s 27th State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010 after serving in the state legislature.”

Tuck supports the parent trigger law, which allows a simple majority of parents to seize control of their school and hand it over to a charter corporation. He also supports the plaintiffs in the Vergara case, a lawsuit that seeks to eliminate teachers’ due process rights.

Robert D. Skeels, writing in L.A. Progressive, rips Marshall Tuck for closing down ethnic studies programs and heritage language studies programs while running the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. He reviews Tuck’s record at Green Dot charter schools and the Mayor’s Partnership and renders a scathing judgment.

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