By LAURA QUEZADA
News Review Staff Writer
“I want to continue to work to support California students,” says Tony Thurmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction of his run for re-election.
“Students and families have been through what I call the most difficult time that most of us will experience in our lifetime. When you factor in the losses from the pandemic, a million Americans have lost their lives, the examples of hate and racism that we’ve seen during the pandemic, starting with the killing of George Floyd, the spike in hate in Asian American Pacific Islander community, the backlash against LGBTQ+ students, the mistreatment of immigrant students. Our students have been through a great deal. And they’ve suffered, rates of depression are higher.
And so I’m running for reelection to continue the work that we started to help California students but also to help our students move past this difficult time.”
He notes some of the many efforts made during the pandemic: computers, free COVID tests, 900 million meals.
“Now we have to help our students bridge to a better opportunity in terms of recovery, academic recovery, and there’s a number of programs that were leading to help with that.” His plans include universal preschool for every four year old, universal meals for hungry students, getting 10,000 counselors for students to have support for the trauma from the pandemic and have the chance to build skills that helps them recover academically.
“I am leading an effort to make sure that all of our students learn to read and then we provide more resources for our students to learn a second language and then to help our students thrive, leading efforts to help our students be able to have access to paid internship opportunities so they can prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”
He describes himself as “a former student who needed education to overcome my own humble beginnings. To overcome poverty, to overcome being on the free lunch program and receiving public assistance like government cheese and food stamps. Education helped me overcome losing my only parent at the age of six. It was education and mentorship that helped me overcome those humble beginnings and to become someone who works in our schools, both in a traditional way and as a legislator, and I’m bringing forward a plan to help to be able to bounce back to heal, to recover and to thrive going forward. Because I still believe that the promise of education that was meant for me is a promise that could be for every California student.
The State Superintendent has got to be someone who can work with policy leaders, governors, legislators and State Board of Education to get resources at our schools. I’ve worked closely with our leaders throughout the pandemic and I’m banking on that experience to help me to continue to lead our schools through these difficult times as we move forward.
I would like to visit and hear from your readers and to hear what they think are the most important issues. I don’t want to try and speak for any one community but I’ve had a chance to work with all 58 county superintendents. And so I want to be helpful in ways that make sense.” He can be reached via email at .
There are many people who have inspired Thurmond, “My ninth grade math teacher, Mrs. Farrell, who helped me overcome my own challenges as a student and she sat with me and gave me extra time and a lot of inspiration. I’ve had so many mentors who’ve helped me in my faith community, my teachers, each and every one pushed me to be my best and they said that I could have a life that was different than how I started. My cousin inspires me, she didn’t know me. I was six years old when I came to live with her after my mom passed away from cancer. She insisted that I got an education; she worked two jobs and went to night school to get her own degree. I’m inspired by my grandmother who came to this country from Panama who, as a teenager, was working cleaning houses to try and build a better life for her children.” He also credits his siblings who shared his trials.
“As a child, I looked at the people like Martin Luther King with his message of service to others. As an adult, I’ve been mentored by great people like Dolores Huerta who I consider an incredible mentor who I
look up to and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to call on her when I need help as I’m working through difficult policy decisions.”