Do you have any idea what the State Superintendent of Public Instruction does? I know when I voted for this office last time I had absolutely no idea, just a vague notion of who was “my” candidate because at the end of the day it’s not usually very hard to recognize who shares the values you support. There should be no sustenance for racists, classists or bigots whatsoever, and disingenuous claims ought to be jettisoned.

Astonishingly, Marshall Tuck is actually running on his brief record at Green Dot Schools as corporate CFO, and also as head of Villaraigosa’s private organization that managed a subset of troubled schools within LAUSD, under the privately-funded “Partnership for Los Angeles Schools” (PLAS). It is therefore rather easy to distinguish the candidates, their philosophies and ideologies and the true nature of the realm they oversee.

And part of the reason it is easy to tell what’s what is because we here in LA have seen this race before. It’s actually a contest between the same 800 pound gorillas that LA voters have sided with in each and every one of the last four LAUSD school board elections. To be sure there are slightly different faces fronting the usual-suspect backers, but the language is all the same (“Urgency“!, “EXcellence“!, “Choice“!) and the dark money behind it is the same too.

Take, for example, this debate between Marshall Tuck and incumbent Tom Torlakson. The language from house-left of the stage is virtually indistinguishable from this school board election debate of two years previously. In the corporate suit is an earnest young shiny-faced puppet pumped full of private sector dollars and punching the same focus-grouped talking points independent of actual reality. They talk of “students first” and “great teachers”. They decry the sweet-cheeked, dedicated and apple-sporting teacher of yore as morphed now into an out-of-control power monger intent on maintaining incompetence in the classroom at the expense of children’s pedagogy. There is a relentless, disciplined focus on a small set of honed issues that do not, at the end of the day, actually comport with the actual experience of an actual family attending an actual public school.

To be sure there are infuriating problems with our public schools. There is insufficient support staff and crumbling, inadequate infrastructure. There are not enough teachers, counselors or classroom aides and some of them are less inspiring than others. Mostly, there is just not enough money spent on our children publicly, or at least not enough of it is going to the children directly. And our school board seems likewise focused on derivative matters rather than the imperative of ensuring that school is safely and competently managed for the people, by the people.

But these problems are not those pounded in this professionally organized, PR-driven, fact- and experience-free, 1%-obsessed campaign. With relentless repetition their agenda is focused on issues to degrade the influence of organized labour and drive the market predominance of high technology. The challenger, Marshall Tuck, simply blusters through one Big Lie after another, disingenuously claiming to be all about “the children” when in fact this is seemingly the opposite of his agenda. Marshall Tuck’s resume offers no evidence to suggest children’s best interests are the focus of his attention. What all these billionaire-backed candidates – whether Sanchez I v Kayser, Anderson v Zimmer, Sanchez II v Ratliff, or Johnson v McKenna – is about, is the corporate interests of their paymasters.

Marshall Tuck comes to the education sector not through the study or practice of teaching, but through the world of private finance, business school, investment banking and “computers”. As CFO of Green Dot schools he presided over a failure to improve by its own metrics. During his time at PLAS some of the selectively-touted outcome measures told to ensure “accountability” show instead absolutely dismal education proficiency metrics reflected in remediation rates and testing scores among other lines of evidence. An LATimes story about the bathroom situation at Green Dot’s Locke High 2 ingrains one of those “forever” images that neither nightmare nor valium can dislodge; boasting about Green Dot’s success seems the height of hubris at best. The claim of favor by PLAS’ or Green Dot’s teachers is belied by Brett Wyatt, a teacher who chronicles the professional dismay and disarray at Green Dot Animo Locke, the “churn and burn” alienation of its teachers that reflects and secures the dismal reality for its students.

As if his flawed accounting of his own institutional success were not sufficiently discrediting, Marshall Tuck’s own words are reason enough for refusing him this – or any – educational leadership post. At root is the radical, bordering on treasonous belief that regardless of his influence as leader, public schools are “failed” institutions led by redundant workers. His mistaken understanding of the purpose of public education – as a fundamentally basic civil right and democratic equalizer – renders him untrustworthy as an educator or “candidate for change“. Tuck has demonstrated himself unwilling to accurately assess his own impact and duplicitous in labeling corporate-driven activism a change that is motivated by “kids”. We are far better off with an incumbent who has legislated for an improved fiscal landscape successfully, than a banker who has agitated for a privatized fiscal landscape disingenuously.

Friends don’t let friends vote unawares: Los Angelenos have turned education privatizers away from their school board four times over; voting for Tom Torlakson will keep the latest privateer at bay.

For more on Marshall Tuck’s followers and support and followers please see:  Follow Those Checks Before Checking Off Your Ballot