Framing his campaign as a fight against federal efforts to undermine public education, California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond announced Monday that he will run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018.
The Richmond Democrat said he is seeking the post overseeing California schools to improve public education and combat a federal defunding “crisis.” Though California schools are largely funded by the state, President Donald Trump has proposed a budget with deep cuts to his Department of Education, which provides grants for disadvantaged students and after-school programs, and more money for “school choice” programs.
“It’s time to make our public education system among the greatest in the nation. I won’t stop until we get there,” Thurmond said in a statement. “I will put in place innovative strategies to reform California’s schools. We must close the achievement gap, and I will work to provide rigorous educational opportunities for all students at all levels.”
Thurmond touted his work on education issues in the Legislature; he currently has a bill to finance affordable housing for school employees, which he said will help reduce the statewide teacher shortage. He also unveiled his first endorsement, from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who called him an “advocate ensuring that no young person slips through the cracks” and an “unwavering voice for change.”
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Marshall Tuck, a former Los Angeles schools executive who ran for superintendent of public instruction in 2014, also entered the race last month. That could set up a rematch of the contentious 2014 election, which became an expensive proxy battle over a lawsuit on teacher job protections. Thurmond has been a strong ally of organized labor and raised more than $30,000 from state and local teachers unions during his second run for Assembly last year.