State Superintendent Tom Torlakson is a second-generation teacher who has applied his experience as a science teacher, high school coach, and parent to fight for our kids and transform the way public education works in California.
After declaring our schools were in a state of fiscal emergency during his first week in office, Superintendent Torlakson worked tirelessly to help pass Propositions 30 and 39 in 2012.
He believed that the voters would choose to reinvest in education if they knew there was a clear plan for improving California’s schools. That's why Superintendent Torlakson created the Blueprint for Great Schools. The Blueprint outlines research-backed ideas that focus on the whole child, teach our students 21st century skills, and seek to ensure every classroom has an excellent teacher and every school has an outstanding principal.
The Blueprint for Great Schools and these two propositions were critical to stabilizing our education system and are the foundation for what Superintendent Torlakson intends to do to return our schools to the top ranks in the nation if re-elected in 2014.
To achieve these results, has been a champion of education technology and has outlined a plan to ensure every student has access to an internet-connected device before, during, and after the school day: something he calls No Child Left Offline. He has engaged with leading STEM leaders to produce plans to restore STEM programs and Career Technical Education programs to each of our schools.
Superintendent Torlakson's Team California for Healthy Kids initiative is working to ensure our students have access to healthy food, clean water, and physical activity during and after school. He has called for a Renaissance in arts education and has partnered with the California Arts Council, County Superintendents, and arts activists to achieve that vision. He put together the most comprehensive examination of California's teaching profession in a generation and is working with the legislature and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to put those ideas into action.
Because the safety of our students is critical, Superintendent Torlakson has taken the lead to ensure our schools are safe, that school personnel follow their duties as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, and he has pushed for policies to reduce the dropout rate and prevent chronic absenteeism.
He had a long and distinguished career as a California State Legislator. In 1998 he authored legislation that led to the development of the largest system of after school programs in the nation. In 2006, he authored the bill that led to a 300 percent expansion in these programs—so they now reach 4,000 schools around the state. Torlakson authored the Quality Education Improvement Act in 2006, which dedicates nearly $3 billion to our lowest performing schools. He 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.
Superintendent Torlakson has worked to increase funding for textbooks, computers, and other instructional materials; worked to enhance campus safety, close the digital divide, eliminate the achievement gap, improve student health, and reduce the horrible drop-out rate. Tom has also authored legislation to improve the safety of our children and students--including landmark legislation to improve reporting of sexual assault and other crimes against children, combat hazing, and make our schools safer for children.
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.