Tony Thurmond (courtesy photo)

Tony Thurmond has a plan he said, to make public schools the best in the nation. Thurmond is running for State Superintendent for Public Instruction because he believes that every child should get the education they need to realize their potential. If he is elected in November, he will be the first African American to hold the position in more than three decades.  

The candidate’s 14 point plan includes school safety, prioritized funding and transparency. 

“We can’t be satisfied with the status quo,” Thurmond said. 

“There was a time when education in California was among the best in our nation. Now, by most accounts, California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending. My plan offers innovative solutions, backed up by real strategies, to take California back to the top. If we have a clear eye on the future, we must be able to take California back to the top.” 

Currently Thurmond, 50, is a member in the California State Assembly serving the 15th District. He is a member of the California Legislative Latino Caucus, California Legislative Black Caucus, and California Legislative Jewish Caucus. Prior to being elected to the Assembly in 2014, he was a member of the Richmond City Council, a Board Member of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and social services administrator. 

He won’t be new to education if elected, having used his time in the State Assembly to make it his top priority, he said.  

“I introduced a bill that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to fund STEM education so our kids will be prepared for jobs of the future,” Thurmond explained. 

“I passed legislation that provides millions of dollars to school districts keep kids in school and out of the criminal justice system. I successfully advocated for money to make sure all California youth who were in foster care would have the money to go to college…” 

He is also leading the charge to provide mental health services to kids to help combat the pressures of bullying.  

Before the Assembly, Thurmond was a member of the West Contra Costa School Board from 2008 to 2012 and the Richmond City Council from 2005 to 2008. Thurmond was the council liaison to the West Contra Costa County Unified School District and the West Contra Costa County Education Fund. He also served as council liaison to Richmond’s Youth Commission and Workforce Investment Board.[3] He was a member of the Family and Children’s Trust Committee of Contra Costa County. 

Education is close to the candidate’s heart. Born in Monterey, California, Thurmond was six years old when his mother, who was single, died of cancer and left him and his siblings to be raised by a relative. The family struggled, he said, and relied on public assistance. But his benefactor made sure he navigated his way successfully through the state’s public educational system, a factor that led him to Temple University where he studied social work.  

“In my life, education has been the great equalizer that allowed me to overcome humble beginnings,” said Thurmond, 

“I want the same opportunities for all of California’s kids.” 

So far, Thurmond is endorsed by a number of political heavy weights, including  Senator Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Legislative Black Caucus and the California Democratic Party.