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Close Race for California Superintendent of Public Instruction

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MOOR graphic by LESLIE HWANG
JACQUELYN LOI
Staff Writer

Education is often a main issue that appeals to many voters. This year, two candidates, Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson, are running to become the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. However, according to the Contra Costa Times, both Tuck and Torlakson have opposing views on California public schools and who should attend and teach in those schools.

Tuck aims to have student test scores evaluate teachers’ competency and wants to simplify the state’s education code, so that public schools can operate more freely and be geared more towards students and parents, similar to charter schools. On the other hand, Torlakson favors an increased annual state income for schools to implement new teaching methods and for testing under Common Core standards, according to the LA Weekly.

Both candidates also have different views on the Vergara lawsuit, which was filed by a group of students who claimed that the state’s tenure and security system deprived them of equal education. The system protects teachers who have obtained tenure after teaching with satisfactory performance ratings for two school years, but targets teachers with less experience for layoff regardless of their teaching abilities, as stated by San Jose Mercury News.

The ruling was appealed by Torlakson, along with state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Governor Jerry Brown. Torlakson claims that teachers are unfairly blamed for problems that have other solutions, such as teacher training. He believes that teacher training should be improved instead of throwing out the tenure system altogether.

“I believe teachers have the right to a fair hearing. We shouldn’t be blaming teachers. Investing in them is the way to help teachers improve their practice,” Torlakson said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

On the other hand, Tuck said he would withdraw support for the appeal of the ruling and believes that layoffs should take into account the performance and effectiveness of the teacher.

“I’ve had to literally look parents in the eye and say: ‘Your son or daughter’s teacher is getting let go and they are good, but the law says they actually have to be let go,” Tuck said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The opposite views between both candidates have resulted in a very close race for the election, which will take place on Nov. 4.

“I think that this race could really be won by either candidate. What Torlakson wants is what is already being implemented. However, I feel that what Tuck wants for our education can help [us] in the long run. He is offering new ideas that can further help students learn. But, when it all comes down to it, I think that both candidates have an more or less an equal chance of winning and that both will probably do their best to ensure we get quality education,” sophomore Christina Tran said.

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