California State Superintendent: State of the Race
Four years ago, California was embroiled in a cut-throat race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, with charter schools and teachers unions spending millions to help their preferred candidate, Tony Thurmond or Marshall Tuck, get elected. This year is different. Although there are a number of challengers trying to unseat State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, there are no huge names and few wild cash drops from interest groups.
Thurmond has been at the center of some controversies, including toxic workplace allegations and allegations of cronyism. But on the biggest and most controversial issues of the past two years — school closures and pandemic school policies — Thurmond has been relegated to the background. Most of the attention has been on Gov. Gavin Newsom and individual school boards.
That’s good news for Thurmond, who could have faced a tough re-election fight but is now favored to win.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be forced into a runoff. There are six people challenging Thurmond, which makes a second round more likely:
- Marco Amaral, Special Education teacher and South Bay Union School Board President
- Joseph Campbell, publisher and former educator
- Lance Christensen, Vice President of Education Policy and Government Relations at the California Policy Center
- James Gibson, cybersecurity consultant and former Vista Unified School Board trustee
- Ainye Long, math teacher at San Francisco Unified
- George Yang, systems engineer and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate
The Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) is a non-partisan elected position with a term of four years. The SPI oversees all functions of the Department of Education and carries out the policies set by the California State Board of Education. The SPI also serves as an ex-officio member of governing boards of the state’s higher education system.