Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has a vision consistent with educators, according to CFT President Joshua Pechthalt.  

“He’s going to fight for public education” Pechthalt said. “He’s not going to let the ‘deformers’ have their way.”

Torlakson talked about those who call themselves reformers, such as former Green Dot CEO Marshall Tuck, his opponent in the race for superintendent, who supported the Vergara decision, which threatens key job protections for teachers.  

“Schools are under assault by those who want to attack teachers rather than celebrate teachers,” Torlakson told delegates to CFT Convention. “You’re a brilliant team, and I’m most proud of being part of this education team. I’m with you.”

Torlakson has challenged the Vergara decision.  

“You inspire me as I travel the state standing up for teachers and classified against billionaires who unfairly blame you for problems,” he said. “Teachers and classified employees are not the problem­ — you’re the solution.”

What schools need is a “helping hand, not a slapping hand,” Torlakson went on to say. As the state moves towards Common Core standards, he’s proud of suspending the Academic Performance Index even though U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he could cut off billions in federal aid if the students didn’t take the API.

“Arne Duncan threatened to take away all our Title 1 money if we didn’t do it his way,” Torlakson said. “But we did it our way, the kids’ way.”

Saying that success was more than data points on a math test, Torlakson added that the California Department of Education is working with Linda Darling-Hammond, an education professor at Stanford University, on finding other ways besides standardized testing to evaluate students.