Candidate for California superintendent of schools talks plans for public education

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Jenna Wong/Staff

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Marshall Tuck, a candidate for California’s state superintendent of public instruction in 2018, addressed UC Berkeley students Wednesday about his upcoming campaign and his plans for public education.

During his address, Tuck presented his four-point plan to better public education, which involved fully funding public schools, focusing on teachers and principals, moving schools into the 21st century and crafting a system that works for all kids. He claimed that disadvantaged, ESL and minority students are often left behind by the public school system and said more money should be spent on the lowest-income children.

Tuck addressed approximately 700 students as a guest speaker for Political Science 179. The course has a different theme each semester and is now focused on “Election 2018.” Tuck’s primary goals in addressing this group of students were to talk to “social-justice oriented leaders” and to inspire activism in public education, he said in an interview with The Daily Californian.

In his efforts to modernize schools, Tuck plans to update the curriculum to include computer science, civics and foreign language from a younger age to raise more informed and active citizens.

“We are the wealthiest state in the nation, (a) tech capital,” Tuck alleged. “Yet (our) fourth-graders rank dead last in science.”

Nancy Perez, a campus freshman, attended charter schools for middle and high school and said she agreed that funding in public schools is a major problem.

“All the teachers and principals (in Perez’s schools) talked about the funding and (said) their voices weren’t being heard,” Perez said. “(Tuck) listened to the students’ questions and seemed serious about helping to prepare students for college.”

A major point of Tuck’s plan to improve education was creating a massive data system that tracks students’ school performance from pre-K through college and later into their careers. To measure this comprehensively, Tuck intends to take into account test scores, graduation rates, suspension rates, university placement, job placement and surveys of teachers and students.

Tuck’s previous experience in education includes serving as CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which focuses on improving underperforming schools, and leading Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school organization that aims to encourage students to attend college.

In 2014, Tuck launched a similar bid for state superintendent of public instruction, but ultimately lost to the incumbent Tom Torlakson.

In wrapping up his address, Tuck called for public engagement and claimed that though Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who is also running for state superintendent of schools, was funded mainly by corporations, Tuck said he is only taking donations from individuals.

“(I’m running because) I wake up every single day to focus on the 6.2 million kids in our public schools,” Tuck said.

Contact Madeleine Gregory at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @mgregory_dc.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Marshall Tuck referred to his opponent as Tom Torlakson. In fact, he was referring to fellow candidate Tony Thurmond.