By Joshua Pechthalt
In spite of all of the outside money coming into California from billionaires, corporate interests and other anti-union forces, the people of this state made it clear that they weren’t going to have the fate of their children’s education decided by the 1% “reformers.”
With the re-election of Tom Torlakson as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in California, we learned once again that engaging thousands of educators across the state is more powerful than a million dollar, anti-teacher campaign.
For the last four years, Torlakson has demonstrated that he is a champion of public education and is committed to expanding early childhood education as a way to increase student success. He understands the need for raising more revenue to fund the changes we need to improve teaching and learning. The Superintendent has also been successful in building a broad coalition around education reform while he has resisted the urge to through teachers and education unions under the bus.
This victory is a result of the hard work from our members and supporters, knocking on doors, making phone calls and getting people out to vote.
We’ve now had a series of elections in this state where the people of California have rejected a well-funded, anti-union agenda by so-called reformers. From passing Proposition 30 and defeating Prop 32 in 2012, defeating Governor Schwarzenegger’s anti-teacher measures in the 2011 special election, voters continue to reject the divisive anti-teacher, anti-union narrative being promoted corporations and the wealthy.
While the election of Tom Torlakson is a huge victory both for California and the nation as a whole, it does not change our task to build a movement for quality public education irrespective of who is in office.
At the end of the day, the power of educators uniting and organizing and with students, parents and community members around a progressive vision of public education cannot be matched. It is our responsibility to help make that happen.