FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT JOHN SHALLMAN
The Tom Torlakson for Superintendent of Public Instruction campaign, facing last-minute negative radio ads paid for by Sacramento lobbyists, aired a new TV commercial today detailing opponent Larry Aceves' failures as a former School Superintendent.
ACSA, the Sacramento lobbying interest that fights to protect the state's education bureaucracy, lashed out with the election's first negative attacks after pouring more than a million dollars into an effort to stop Torlakson—a classroom teacher and legislator. ACSA's radio ads were produced by Sacramento-based Republican consultants JohnsonClark who boast on their website their advocacy for big oil, insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. (1)
Torlakson's TV ad, titled "Blackboard," demonstrates Aceves' troubled record as a former School Superintendent. During his time at Franklin-McKinley Unified School District, his district's failures were investigated by the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported in 1999 that most of his schools were classified "low-performing" after failing to meet state education standards. (2) His failures at Franklin-McKinley were preceded by similar struggles at Alum Rock Elementary School District, which he quit after two years, later explaining to the San Jose Mercury News "I could see I was not making an impact." (3)
"The record is clear: 11 of the 14 elementary schools Aceves managed as Superintendent failed to meet minimum state standards. If he couldn't manage 14 schools, how can he possibly manage 10,000 throughout California?” asks Torlakson campaign manager John Shallman, "Voters need to know that lobbyists are spending a fortune to smear Tom Torlakson because they want to stop his plan to cut waste and fix our schools."
At Franklin-McKinley, Aceves was embroiled in a scandal regarding his refusal to air condition classrooms during a year-round schedule despite 96 degree summer temperatures and widespread parent compaints. (4) Yet years later, Aceves' district found enough money to spend lavishly on a $1.6 million administration building renovation. In the pages of a 2003 school administration trade publication, Aceves personally showcased a new glass atrium reception area and boasted of the panoramic wilderness views from his office (nicknamed "the Pink Palace"). (5)
The ad will run on broadcast television in Southern California and can be seen at www.youtube.com/tomtorlakson. Torlakson's campaign, which offers a detailed plan for reform at www.tomtorlakson.com, has won bipartisan endorsements from California police, firefighters, nurses and schoolteachers, as well as editorial boards including the Sacramento Bee and the San Diego Union-Tribune.
A second-generation teacher, Torlakson has applied his experience as a science teacher and high school coach to reform the way public education works as a member of the State Legislature. Torlakson has acted to improve student nutrition and physical education, give schools the funding support they need to ensure academic achievement, and reduce the dropout rate. He has also worked diligently to protect education funding.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, Torlakson will work to ensure parents can send their children to a safe, high-quality school in their own neighborhood. He also wants to expand career and technical education for high school students, protect college-prep courses and arts and music programs, fight to reduce the drop-out rate and close the achievement gap, and make sure the management of local school districts measures up to the highest standards of excellence.
(2) SJ Mercury News, August 19th 1999
(3) San Jose Mercury News, July 17th 2005
(4) SJ Mercury News, August 3rd 1995
(5) District Administration Magazine, August 1st 2003