Tuck’s Allies Resort to Dirty, Trump-Like Politics to Smear Opponent Tony Thurmond
BURLINGAME – As the three-week countdown to Election Day intensifies, independent backers of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) candidate Marshall Tuck are resorting to dirty, Trump-like politics, spreading distortions about his opponent in television ads throughout the state.
West Contra Costa Unified School Board Member Madeline Kronenberg, California’s educators, the NAACP, California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Chair Christine Pelosi and Southern Chair Carolyn Fowler, the California Labor Federation and NARAL Pro-Choice California denounce the dishonest political games. They urge Tuck to stop the lies and smears from an independent expenditure committee that’s tainting the process which allows voters to decide on the SPI race based on facts and record. They are asking Tuck to demand that his allies pull the ads.
“Educators in California fully support Tony Thurmond for Superintendent of Public Instruction for his long-standing commitment and record advocating for all of our students. As educators we’ve worked with Tony for many years and we’ve found him to be a man of impeccable integrity,” said CTA President Eric Heins. “Our students deserve better than a candidate who apparently depends on lies and deception of his backers to win. This is the same candidate who is beholden to the corporate billionaires pouring in millions to buy the election for Tuck so he can push their agenda to privatize our public schools.”
The 30-second ads are running on heavy rotation in California’s major media markets in hopes of swaying in Tuck’s favor undecided voters in the SPI race.
“Please tell your supporters to pull these ads immediately and apologize to the people of California for these disgraceful tactics,” Alice Huffman, the president of the California-Hawaii NAACP chapter, demanded in an Oct. 17 letter to Tuck. “That this would happen in California in 2018 is deeply disturbing. It appears you have chosen to follow President Trump’s playbook of using lies and fake news to smear prominent leaders of color.”
“Marshall Tuck’s supporters are trying to win his race by running despicable ads regarding past sexual harassment of students in West Contra Costa Unified School District – exploiting victims and the #MeToo movement to lie about his opponent,” said Pelosi and Fowler in a statement. “Their attempts to weaponize trauma is sickening, and doubling down with a deceptive character assassination of Tony Thurmond is gross and insulting to all survivors. Marshall Tuck needs to call for these ads to be taken down immediately.”
The ads refer, in part, to a federal probe of sexual harassment problems in West Contra County Unified School District while Thurmond served with distinction on the district’s school board from 2008-2012. Thurmond worked to improve safety and other issues in the district, said longtime school board member Madeline Kronenberg, who served alongside Thurmond and is now supported by teachers backing her re-election. He worked diligently to improve campus safety and helped heal the community after a student was assaulted on a high school campus by other students and adults in 2009, she said.
“I am proud to have served with Tony Thurmond during the depths of the Great Recession as we coped with, and resolved, real problems in our school district – taking the responsibility that elected leaders take but that Marshall Tuck can’t understand because he’s never held an elected office,” Kronenberg said. “He is bankrolled by the corporate charter school movement and believes in expanding charters at the expense of our neighborhood public schools. His wealthy supporters are funding these attack ads because the truth is that Tony Thurmond is a passionate advocate for our schools and for our communities.”
In fact, Thurmond has continued to work tirelessly in the Legislature to protect students by passing a law that designates a whole month to sexual assault awareness and advocating for broader protections for victims such as expeditious processing of evidence and rape kits.
During his time on the school board, Thurmond also helped to sharply reduce the number of schools that were closed due to budget constraints, and saw in his last year in 2012 how the district paid off a state bailout loan four years early stemming from the district’s bankruptcy in 1991.
The ads are just distracting the public from Tuck’s failed past track record with low-income schools he managed starting in 2008 in Los Angeles Unified School District as part of a partnership project. But after three years of Tuck’s leadership, and extra resources to help at-risk students, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) campuses had improved academic records but gains were greater at Los Angeles Unified schools with similar demographics, the Los Angeles Times reported. At one point, teachers at eight of 10 of the PLAS schools gave Tuck a landslide vote of no confidence. And parents and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a complaint against Tuck in 2009 after he shut down dual language immersion programs.
Community groups, educators and other supporters are backing Thurmond for SPI for all of his accomplishments and great contributions to California’s students and public schools.
Educators in West Contra Costa Unified respect Thurmond and are now knocking on doors and making phone calls in even greater numbers to get him elected, said Demetrio Gonzalez, president of the 1,800-member United Teachers of Richmond union. “These attacks on Tony Thurmond are backfiring,” Gonzalez said. “They’re energizing teachers and parents to get out the vote for Tony because we know his real record and all the good things he is doing for students and public schools.”
Working families stand with Thurmond. “It’s appalling that Marshall Tuck’s billionaire backers would resort to making false claims in an effort to prop up their own selfish agenda,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “Tony Thurmond has longstanding, deep ties to California’s public schools and an unassailable record in support of students and educators. Voters see through dirty politics and meritless attacks. Working people are proud to stand with Tony in his campaign to become a Superintendent of Public Instruction who will put our local public schools first.”
“The attack ad being run against Assembly Member Tony Thurmond is disgraceful, completely misrepresenting facts to undermine the credibility of an honorable man who has dedicated his life to public service as a social worker and advocate for young people in Contra Costa County,” said Amy Everitt, State Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “The tactic is repulsive, and one we’ve seen deployed far too often on the national stage. Organizations like EdVoice are responsible for fueling divisiveness in education – creating a false choice for parents, families and teachers – as if we don’t all want our children to thrive. One need only look to the private funders behind Tuck’s campaign to see right through the dirty games at play. If Marshall Tuck has any regard for the principle of fairness, a value that parents and teachers aim to instill in children every day, he should disavow this misleading ad and have it pulled off the air.”