While school has been out for many kids since mid-May, this summer has been a busy time in the world of education. Big issues like teacher tenure and the new common core curriculum have kept education in the headlines across California.
This week on Valley Edition we talked about those issues and more with one of the men seeking to become California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marshall Tuck. He will face off against incumbent Tom Torlakson on the November ballot.
On charters vs. traditional public schools:
"I think there's too much time spent on this either or - either charters or traditional public schools. We need to focus on what makes the most sense for kids. What is the fundamental change that we need to make in our schools in the state. If we know that charters have more flexibility, and that helps them educate kids more effectively, let's give more flexibility to traditional public schools and public school communities. Because right now our traditional public schools are constrained by a lot of the challenges in Sacramento. So I think that we need to get over the back and forth dialogue and focus on what parents care about: a safe high quality school in their neighborhood that's public. That's what parents want regardless of governing structure."
On tensions between teachers and administrators:
"When you have principals and teachers on the same page working together that's when you have a functional school. I've actually come to an effective school that was doing well where you had a lot of tension and conflict between teachers and principals. It's frankly in our schools that are less effective and that conflict is not good for children."
On the Vergara decision which overturned the state's teacher tenure laws:
"I've been a strong supporter of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit. It was nine students who sued the state of California and they sued Tom Torlakson who is my opponent in this race, as well as the governor and the state, saying that the laws that are written into our education code that say that two year tenure for teachers, the fact that layoffs are only done based on seniority, and the fact that it's almost impossible to layoff teachers, that those laws violate out students constitutional right to a quality education. The reason I've been so supportive is because I ran schools. And if you've run schools, you know like I do, we had Markham Middle School the most violent school in LA where half of our teachers received layoff notices because more senior teachers didn't want to go to work at Markham... I'm a strong believer in the lawsuit and I believe the state superintendent should have been on the side of the plaintiffs."
On common core:
"One of the reasons you see so many different opinions amongst teachers is because it's been rolled out so poorly by the state, where we literally did not give teachers any additional time for training. We did not give them significant additional support in terms of getting ready for the common core, and then all of sudden last year said 'oh by the way, you're now teaching the common core.' And the end result is a lot of misinformation and people who are struggling with this transition. And it's a transition first and foremost, from what typically has been our prior standards, because the state has always had standards. - the prior standards were around more rote memorization, and this is trying to move us more toward project based and critical thinking, a project based approach to learning and teaching, which is one that I think is more beneficial to kids."