State Superintendent Tom Torlakson is a second-generation public school teacher who applies his experience as a science teacher, coach, and parent in the fight to transform education so that all California children get the world-class education they deserve.
Superintendent Torlakson helped lead and win the battle to stop budget cuts to California’s schools and put decision-making about how to spend education dollars back in the hands of local parents, teachers, and community leaders. He supported providing local flexibility for $13 billion in state education funds. Earlier this year, he led successful efforts to provide schools with $1.25 billion in locally controlled funding for new textbooks, teacher training and school technology.
Superintendent Torlakson believes students need a taste of the working world before they graduate, and that all students should leave school with skills that help them succeed in the real world of careers and college. He has helped expand workplace internship and career training programs as the state implements new, higher education standards in science, mathematics and English/language arts.
As a teacher and a parent, Superintendent Torlakson has worked to improve school safety, and keep children safe from gangs, drugs and guns. Legislation he wrote led to the development of the largest system of after school programs in the nation, which now reach 4,000 schools around California.
Superintendent Torlakson also had a long and distinguished career as a California State Legislator advocating for students and schools. Torlakson authored the Quality Education Improvement Act in 2006, which dedicates nearly $3 billion to bring teachers, parents and communities together to improve low-performing schools.
Superintendent Torlakson also played a key role negotiating and authoring the $9 billion Proposition 1A bond measure in 1998—which has led to public votes supporting over $35 billion to build new schools and improve existing school buildings.
Born in San Francisco, Superintendent Torlakson served as a fireman in the United States Merchant Marine, earning the Vietnam Service Medal. He earned a B.A. in History, a Life Secondary Teaching Credential, and an M.A. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.