On Oct. 6, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson answered questions asked by student journalists at the Department of Education in downtown Sacramento.
By Ashley Han and Zoe Juanitas,
Student journalists from the Sacramento and Davis area attended the press conference with Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction. This conference was organized by Rio Americano High teacher Mike Mahoney.
Torlakson is running for his same position in the upcoming election on Nov. 4 against fellow Democrat Marshall Tuck. There are a few issues he is focusing on in this election including teacher tenure and common core.
He is also concerned about school equity. “What I do personally is that I help promote local bond measures so that we are sure that students in those neighborhoods […] those schools gets the attention they deserve,” Torlakson said.
HUB staff member Will Bodendorfer asked a question about Torlakson’s stance on teacher tenure and its role in the employment of teachers.
“It’s an area that is somewhat misunderstood so first I’ll say I’m dealing with the governor and the state board of education […] I do know that there are tools today, which administrators can use to not give some [teachers] more permanent status unless they are up to it and to get out of the classroom teachers who aren’t up to speed. I know as a classroom teacher that it’s a tough job, not everyone is cut out for it,” Torlakson said.
Earlier this year, Torlakson signed a law into effect “to make it easier, faster and streamline to fire ineffective teachers as well as abusive teachers.”
“I also believe that part of the set of laws or debate is about the right of due process. I do believe that experienced teachers deserve a fair hearing when their job is on the line. And that’s again part of the whole debate. […] There is too much blame game going on, too much focus on where all these really bad teachers [are] and not looking at where we should be looking which is investing, investing in the future, in smaller class sizes, strong academics, and bringing art, music and drama back, and career education. That’s my position on [teacher tenure],” Torlakson said.