Candidate for state superintendent of public instruction visits UC Berkeley

Sierra Brown/Staff

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Marshall Tuck, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction, visited UC Berkeley on Wednesday afternoon to talk to students about his platforms and problems with the state’s current education.

The state superintendent position is California’s top education post and oversees the California Department of Education as well as public schools. Tuck is running against incumbent Tom Torlakson, who has held the position for one term.

Alan Ross, a Haas School of Business lecturer, instructs the colloquium at which Tuck spoke. Tuck said he was interested in talking to UC Berkeley students because students remember public primary and secondary education but are close enough to a career to have a voice.

“I was excited to come,” Tuck said. “It is inspiring and energizing to speak to students.”

According to a recent field poll, Tuck has a marginal lead ahead of Torlakson — he polled at 31 percent, while Torlakson polled at 28 percent. Forty-one percent of respondents had no opinion.

If elected, Tuck, who was the CEO of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and former president of Green Dot Public schools, said he aims to engage parents and increase the use of technology in classrooms.

He also aims to refine college preparedness curriculum, reform teacher hiring and evaluation practices and allow local schools more flexibility. In particular, he said he would work to modernize the tenure law.
He criticized Torlakson for upholding the status quo in Sacramento.

“You would think that the current legislators would say enough is enough — that’s what kids deserve,” Tuck said at the lecture. “No elected official should ever prioritize a broken system over children’s future.”

While in office, current superintendent and UC Berkeley alumnus Torlakson implemented the Blueprint for Great Schools, which identifies problem areas and gives suggestions on how to fix them.

He also supported legislation that increased funding for instructional materials, including computers, in hopes of closing the digital divide and decreasing the dropout rate. He also worked to stop budget cuts to schools. During his term, the California high school graduation rate rose to 81 percent from 78.5 percent.

In a statement posted on his website, Torlakson criticized Tuck for “holding his support for extended school funding hostage to unspecified changes to education policy” in reference to statements Tuck said about extending Proposition 30 measures only if other changes to the public education system were made.

Torlakson could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

Over the semester, Ross has brought in multiple speakers who have spoken on current issues and the 2014 election.

UC Berkeley sophomore Will Kaufman related Tuck’s lecture to lectures from previous guests.

“They are all people who have high aspirations and want change,” Kaufman said.

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.