Capitol Alert

California schools chief stars in country music video

A shot from the “California: We Do Things Different” music video, starring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
A shot from the “California: We Do Things Different” music video, starring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Courtesy of the Department of Education

In California, we do things “different” – like put our top schools official in a country music video to kick off an education conference.

Over the summer, the state Department of Education shot “California: We Do Things Different,” a musical welcome for the Council of Chief State School Officers’ annual policy forum, starring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The national meeting of state superintendents, which took place in San Diego in November, always features opening remarks from the host state, according to California Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger, but the Department of Education “decided to up the ante a little bit.”

The video references California’s showdown with the Obama administration over the state’s one-year suspension of standardized testing as Torlakson jogs through Capitol Park, a nod to his favorite hobby.

The song was written by Joe Landon, executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education and a friend of Zeiger’s, and then filmed and edited by a production company for $9,000.

Though country is not a genre often associated with the Golden State, Zeiger said it was a strategic choice.

“This was the easiest way to accommodate [Torlakson’s] singing skills,” he said.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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