The super-rich backers of former Wall Street investment banker Marshall Tuck have launched a barrage of misleading attack ads in a last-ditch effort to defeat state Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
Funded by more than $7 million in late contributions from ultra-wealthy donors who support school vouchers and the privatization of public pension systems, the ads cynically attempt to fault Torlakson for the results of California's chronically underfunded public schools - ignoring his track record of restoring education funding and raising graduation rates and student achievement.
"The people who want to turn California's public education system over to a Wall Street investment banker will apparently say just about anything to divert attention from Marshall Tuck's record as a failed Los Angeles school administrator," Torlakson said.
The ads criticize the performance of California's students, curiously ignoring the fact that the schools Tuck oversaw as CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools themselves remain far below average in reading and math performance.
Fully 15 of the 16 schools listed on the Partnership's website posted English/language arts scores below the state average for 2012-13. At more than two-thirds of Tuck schools, less than one student in three scored proficient or higher. At one school, only 16 percent of students scored proficient or above, compared to 55 percent statewide.
Mathematics results were not much better, with only 5 of 16 schools posting scores that at least met the state average. At the lowest performing Tuck school, only 4 percent of students posted a proficient or better score. Another had only 7 percent proficient or better. A third had only 10 percent proficient - compared to the statewide average of 50 percent.
Tuck's lack of training and experience played a role in the poor performance of the schools he oversaw. With no teaching credential or experience as a professional classroom teacher, principal or district superintendent, Tuck would not be qualified to even teach in any of the 10,000 schools he would oversee as state superintendent.
The Los Angeles Times noted that two years into Tuck's leadership, low-performing schools at other LA Unified schools actually saw greater achievement gains than the Partnership schools - despite the money and attention directed their way.
The Times said Tuck's Partnership schools were "...plagued by operational difficulties, including an exodus of experienced administrators....many teachers complained about a lack of promised resources and input into running the campuses. Nine schools passed resolutions of no confidence..."(8/19/2009)