Sunday, October 5, 2014

California's Superintendent's Race Defies Sense

I haven't been paying as much attention to the California State Superintendent race as I should, because I can only tolerate watching so many scary movies at a time, but today this video landed in my inbox:

Yes, it's more celebrity endorsements for an anti-public school candidate.

Tuck is running on his record as a school turnaround expert, a guy who worked as president of Green Dot Public Schools, one more charter scam job. Diane Ravitch ran an insider account of their insanely bad teacher retention issues last year. He's a Broad Fake Graduate School alumni, an investment banker, and he's backed by the same giant pile of money that has worked to tilt school board elections in LA. But he is pretty, and he clearly has some connected Hollywood friends.

Tuck is popular with the Let's Kick Teachers' Asses crowd, which is why this election matters. Current Superintendent Tom Torlakson pissed off a lot of powerful people by deciding to challenge the Vergara ruling, and if elected Tuck will put an end to that toot suite.

I confess to being a little fascinated by the Tuck candidacy, because what is the end game here? I mean, unless he's an idiot, he has to know that the same smoke and mirrors that create the illusion of success for charter schools cannot be scaled to the state level, and his bold claims that he can raise California's educational standings will fail hugely. "Throw out difficult students who make school look less successful" only works if there are other schools to send them to. Maybe he has figured out how to scale charter success with, say, a plan to push all low-performing California students into Nevada. But I'm doubtful. He has to know that he cannot deliver any of the results he is promising.

So if he's not an idiot, what's the plan here? Just get in there and strip as much money as possible out of the system and walk away? Destroy the teaching profession and public education and just hope nobody notices or cares? The usual reformster profile is to find yourself a job where you aren't accountable to much of anybody and where the reporting of results is entirely under your control. But Tuck wants to be responsible to the state voters for an entire state system whose results will be pretty hard to hide.

Granted, She Who Will Not Be Named has created a template for becoming a nationally respected school superintendent and celebrity spokesmodel for reformsters without ever actually successfully accomplishing anything, ever.

I confess to an uncharitable and irresponsible thought, which boils down to "I don't live in California." So let him win. Let him gut the public school system and replace his teacher force with burn and churn TFA-style temps. Maybe then Californians, celebrity and otherwise, would see just how bogus and screwed up and anti-education these sorts of policies are.

Then I remember. California's newspapers can be relied upon to back Whatever The Big Pile of Money wants. The LA Times has bent itself into a tortured pretzel of intellectual dishonesty trying to find ways to say that LA Supertintendent John Deasy is just totally awesometastic. Seemingly every paper in the state has climbed on board the Tuck money train. So perhaps the end game is to piss all over the people of California and use a massive PR machine to tell them it's raining.

In the meantime, I have to deal with my sadness over Adam Scott's endorsement of this twit. I don't know why it's upsetting to find out that actors whose imaginary characters one really likes are also live human beings, perfectly capable of holding bad opinions. I'll get over it. That much makes more sense than the rest of Tuck's campaign.


  1. In TN, State Achievement School District Superintendent Chris Barbic must have known he couldn't do what he promised he could do. He recently had a heart attack and has been off work since. It's not like the "end-game" holds any hope for Tuck, either.

  2. If the billionaires candidate Marshall Tuck does garner the seat, we can expect the end game to look exactly like it did when the Wall Street banker ran schools here in Los Angeles