Teachers upset by negative attacks by California Teachers Association

From Marshall Tuck campaign

California public school teachers are speaking out today against their union’s attacks on State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Marshall Tuck by strongly urging the CTA to stop spending teachers’ hard-earned dues dollars on dishonest attack ads that mislead voters.

The union is airing a radio ad statewide that attempts to smear Tuck’s record by distorting the facts. The ad is the latest in a multi-million dollar campaign to bolster embattled incumbent Torlakson and avoid talking about the real issues facing California schools.

The teachers are speaking out in a public letter to California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel, urging him to stop the attacks and work together to find a solution for improving California schools:

These attacks are particularly disturbing in light of Mr. Tuck’s outstanding record improving schools in some of California’s toughest neighborhoods. As you know, Mr. Tuck has led two innovative school systems in high-need areas:

Green Dot Public Schools and the Partnership for LA Schools. Both of these school systems have unionized teachers under the California Teachers Association and serve as national models for parental involvement, effective technology in the classroom, and excellent teaching methods. Mr. Tuck worked successfully with teachers’ unions to improve education outcomes, outperforming similar schools in graduation rates and overall academic achievement. These schools have also been good for teachers; last year a clear majority of Partnership teachers said their schools are headed in the right direction. Our union should celebrate these results, not smear them.

We can all agree that California’s public schools are not adequately preparing students to compete in the 21st Century. While there are surely disagreements about how to improve schools, we strongly urge you to stop spending teachers’ hard-earned dues dollars on dishonest attack ads that mislead voters instead of informing them. Rather than trying to distract the public with mudslinging, let’s work together to demand a substantive debate about how to improve schools and give all children in California the education they deserve.

Read the full letter, here. Listen to the ad here.

Tuck, a Democrat, has spent more than a decade improving education opportunities and turning around schools in some of Los Angeles’ toughest neighborhoods. Tuck has only worked in union schools and supports teachers’ right to organize.

Tuck served as Founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools from 2007-2013. Under Tuck’s leadership, the Partnership schools increased four-year graduation rates by over 60%. Over the last 5 years, the Partnership schools have ranked #1 in academic improvement among school systems with more than 10,000 students in the state.

Prior to his leadership at the Partnership, Tuck served as President of Green Dot Public Schools, an organization of unionized charter schools that has grown into a national model.

Diamond Bar High names new dance teacher

 Kari Simonson copy

Kari Simonson is the new dance teacher for Diamond Bar High’s award-winning dance program. Simonson taught dance for two years and coached dance for eight years at Woodbridge High School in Irvine. She comes to us with over 20 years of dance experience.
Simonson is a graduate of Cal State University Fullerton and Chapman University. She has danced for well-known industry professionals like Mike Esperanza (BARE Dance Company) and Leanna Aldenda.
Simonson keeps her dance skills and knowledge current as a teacher and student at Defore Dance Center in Costa Mesa. She also has experience in Pilates and Barre fitness methods.


Westhoff Elementary holds cultural fair in Walnut Valley

Valerie Lu served up Hawaiian-style food. Shown with Luke, Monica Y., Caden, and Joyce N.

Valerie Lu served up Hawaiian-style food. Shown with Luke, Monica Y., Caden, and Joyce N.

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley

Hundreds of Westhoff Elementary families and friends enjoyed foods from around the world during a Culture Fair held Oct. 10. Fifteen different countries were represented at decorated booths with music, customs, and lots of delicious authentic food. Students wore traditional clothing to parade around the school while a DJ offered music for dining and dancing.

“This is one of my favorite nights of our school year.  Everyone relaxes during the cool evening, eats delicious food, and chats with other Westhoff families,” said Principal Denise Rendon.

The school’s Community Club hosts the fair where parents, students, and teachers come together to celebrate diversity of the many cultures represented at the school.

“It is an opportunity for our children to learn about their friends’ customs and share about their own, ” said President Melinda Powell.

“I like going to Culture Fair because I get to play with all my friends.  My dad likes to take me because he really likes the food, “ said 2nd grader Tiffany Fu.

Westhoff Elementary hosted its annual Culture Fair  with  traditional costumes.

Westhoff Elementary hosted its annual Culture Fair with traditional costumes.

“I dressed up in my Indian Clothes.  I like eating other cultures food, but my favorite was my families’ table of Indian food, ” added Priya Kankanala, a 3rdgrader.

Parent Valerie Lu hosted a Hawaiian booth that was a big hit with Kalua pork, spam musubi, haupia, and of course shaved ice.

“Culture Fair is such a unique tradition at Westhoff. The amount of effort put in by all the parent volunteers is tremendous and just as rewarding,” she said. Community Club member Lu serves as the school’s Coordinating Council representative.

There were many delicious dishes from around the world with pad Thai and pineapple fried rice (Thailand), cream puffs (France), tamales (Mexico), stuffed grape leaves (Egypt), chili and cornbread (USA), and more. Parent volunteers at the China table served foods representing its many different regions including Hunan, Sichuan, and Shandong.  Along with sampling tasty treats at the Pakistan booth, the kids came away decorated with beautiful henna designs.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to get to meet the families of our children’s new friends, catch up with old friends, all while enjoying amazing authentic food!” Powell said.

Mt. SAC dance company presents fall dance concert Oct. 24-26

 The Mt. San Antonio College Repertory Dance Company will perform a variety of dance styles at its Annual Fall Repertory Dance Concert on Oct. 24 – 26 at the college’s Sophia Clarke Theater.

Performance times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a special 3 p.m. performance on Sunday, Oct. 26. 

The dance company is Mt. SAC’s elite group of student performers who showcase the talent of this award-winning dance department. The troupe performs thought-provoking modern works and entertaining musical theater pieces along with ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary dance.

Faculty and guest choreographers are highly acclaimed professionals with credits that include major dance companies, film, and television. 

Tickets are $14 for general admission, and $10 for seniors, students, and children age 12 and under. 

For tickets and more information, call the Performing Arts Box Office at (909) 274-2050. Tickets may also be purchased online athttps://tickets.mtsac.edu. 

Tuck campaign demands removal of false attack ads

Today, the Marshall Tuck campaign’s legal counsel sent a letter to radio stations across California, demanding they immediately stop running false radio ads paid for by the California Teacher’s Association.

The ads are part of a large-scale independent expenditure effort the union is running to protect embattled incumbent Tom Torlakon. Unlike ads from candidate committees, TV & radio stations can be liable for airing false or defamatory content from independent committees.

These radio ads continue a pattern from the primary election – when Torlakson and his supporters ran ads called “slimy” by the San Jose Mercury News and “misleading” by the Sacramento Bee.

Amid a series of dishonest statements, the Tuck campaign’s letter points out that there is no evidence to substantiate the following:

  • Inaccurate statement: “Tuck’s management was so poor, federal tax liens were filed against his schools for tens of thousands in unpaid taxes.”
  • The truth: There were no federal tax liens against either school system led by Tuck, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools or Green Dot, during his tenure according to IRS records.

The letter sent to stations is available here.

A complete fact check is located here.

More falsehoods and distortions from the radio ad:

  • CLAIM: that Tuck “failed as an executive at the Partnership for LA Schools.”
  • TRUTH: During Tuck’s six-plus years leading the Partnership schools, graduation rates were raised by over 60%, while significant improvements were made with school safety and student attendance.
  • CLAIM: “80% of teachers gave [Tuck] a failing grade.”
  • TRUTH: Under Tuck’s leadership, the Partnership schools made significant gains. And the “vote of no confidence” was in the first year of PLAS and was part of a broader political stunt by UTLA aimed at Mayor Villaraigosa, just months after the Partnership took over 17 of LA County’s lowest-performing schools. In fact, after five years of Partnership management, a vast majority of teachers and principals indicated in a year-end survey that they felt their schools were moving in the right direction.

Tom Torlakson visits Reseda High Police Academy Magnet

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson attended the first formal inspection of this year’s cadets at Reseda High School Police Academy Magnet.

The Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program offers a rigorous, police officer-led high school curriculum developed for young men and women expressing an interest in a career in law enforcement.

The program provides a better understanding of law enforcement for students no matter what career path they eventually follow, and also provides a high quality recruiting resource for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Wedgeworth Elementary does flashmob at Puente Hills Mall

400 students from Wedgeworth School in Hacienda Heights perform an anti-bullying flash mob at Puente Hills mall on Thursday.

400 students from Wedgeworth School in Hacienda Heights perform an anti-bullying flash mob at Puente Hills mall on Thursday.

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Puente Hills Mall rocked out Thursday morning, thanks to a flash mob by 400 students and staff from nearby Wedgeworth Elementary School. The Hacienda Heights school filled the center court of the local mall as curious shoppers gathered around.

Clad in their bright red T-shirts, the school danced Gangnam style as parents and patrons lined the second floor balcony to watch.

“Our students wrote the lyrics and our entire student body learned the choreography to help spread the word about bullying prevention,” explained Principal Paulina Cho.

Cho said the Hacienda La Puente Unified school has been working on a campaign to prevent bullying. Each grade level did a different project based on the theme. On Tuesday, the fourth- and fifth-graders will perform an antibullying skit that they wrote themselves.

“For the younger students, we had them outline their own silhouettes, then write in words that bullies might use,” Cho said. “Later, we had them rip their silhouettes to show the harm done by the mean words.”

But the whole school decided they wanted to spread their message to the general public. And what better place to do that than the big regional mall down the street.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s FLASHMOB.

Plaintiffs join former LA Mayor Villaraigosa to endorse Tuck

By Marshall Tuck campaign

Several student plaintiffs from the landmark education lawsuit, Vergara v. California, joined with family members and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to endorse Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction yesterday.

The event, part of the Tuck Campaign’s statewide “ School Turnaround Tour,” is the first public with the Vergara Plaintiffs since a Los Angeles County Superior Court found the statutes in California’s education code dealing with teacher tenure, dismissal, and layoffs—laws that handcuff schools from giving every student an equal opportunity to learn from effective teachers—unconstitutional.

“I’m thrilled to have the support of the courageous student Plaintiffs in Vergara, who bravely stood up for all kids in California and challenged the status quo in our education system,” said Marshall Tuck, Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“For too long, we have defended a broken system that fails to put the needs of our kids first. As State Superintendent, I will be an advocate for our students in Sacramento. I will immediately push to stop the defense of the onerous laws challenged by Vergara and will work with any and all stakeholders who are interested in building a better education future for our state. We owe it to our kids, and they deserve nothing less.”

Earlier this summer, Tuck outlined a plan to address the Vergara ruling based on his experience working to turn around failing schools. Read the whole plan here.

During the press conference, Joe Macias, the father of Plaintiff Julia Macias, delivered the following statement on behalf of the Los Angeles-based Plaintiffs and family members present at the event:

“As a parent, my top priority is to make sure my children get the education they need to thrive in the future – to go to college and to have a successful, rewarding career. But for thousands of families across California, getting their children a good education from our public schools just isn’t an option,” Macias said.

“Vergara v. California achieved a tremendous victory this past summer, breaking down significant barriers to improving our public schools, but the problems and inequality challenged by the case still persist. Kids in California are still trapped in classrooms with highly ineffective teachers. And great teachers are still being demoralized by a system that serves the special interests in Sacramento, instead of the needs of real communities. We are very optimistic that we, the plaintiffs, will prevail on appeal.

“But we need leaders that will start working toward solutions today, instead of just denying that there are even problems. That’s why we’re giving our full support to Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. We’ve met with Marshall, and he not only understands the challenges facing our schools, he knows first hand how to overcome these challenges and turn struggling schools into hubs of learning.

“As Superintendent, Marshall Tuck will be the advocate that parents and students need in Sacramento. Marshall knows that there’s no time to waste and that there’s nothing more important than our children’s education.”

The race for Superintendent is quickly shaping up to be one of the most contested on the ballot as both private and public polling indicate voters are ready for change for California’s failing schools. Currently, California schools rank 45th in the nation.

Sky’s the limit for Baldwin Academy students in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Baldwin Academy student Jilliana Herpacio, 10, assembles a rocket to launch.

Baldwin Academy student Jilliana Herpacio, 10, assembles a rocket to launch.

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Baldwin Academy students got a chance to build their own SpaceX rockets, thanks to the Los Angeles aerospace company and the Union Pacific Foundation.

SpaceX recently won a $2.6 billion contract to build rockets to carry astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.

But last week, the lucky fifth-graders got the chance to launch the SpaceX rockets they have been working on after school for the past five weeks. The athletic field became their makeshift launch pad in Hacienda La Puente Unified.

“SpaceX has been a major sponsor of the Youth Science Center,” agreed the center’s chairman Ron Chong. “They gave us 100 SpaceX rocket kits for our students to assemble. And they’re a $5,000 silver sponsor for our annual dinner on Nov. 14.”

Model Rocketry Instructor Lyle Majeska recommended the Valinda school. He lives just down the street from the school that his own son attended.

“I thought the students would learn a lot by building their own rockets,” Majeska explained. “The model rocket classes are very popular at the Youth Science Center in Hacienda Heights.”

During the afterschool class, the fifth-graders learned about aerodynamics and thrust to build missiles that will actually fly. They even added parachutes to the little capsules.

“The students were selected based on their teachers’ recommendations,” said Principal Lila Picado. “We wanted self-starters, who could work independently on the rockets.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ROCKETS.

Marshall Tuck plans press conference in Sherman Oaks

Marshall Tuck, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, continues his statewide “School Turnaround Tour” with public events in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Highlights include an event with teachers to discuss the path forward in light of the landmark Superior Court decision in Vergara v. California, as well as an event with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the five Los Angeles-area student Plaintiffs and their families in Vergara.

The press conference with the Vergara Plaintiffs is the first public event with the Plaintiffs since the Superior Court decision was handed down on June 10, 2014. A full schedule of events can be found below.


-Marshall Tuck, Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

-Hon. Antonio Villaraigosa, former Los Angeles Mayor

-Los Angeles-based Plaintiffs in Vergara v. California, and their families


State Superintendent for Public Instruction candidate Marshall Tuck’s Turnaround Tour is themed around the opportunity to turnaround California’s education system in light of the recent court ruling in Vergara v. California. The media event with the Vergara Plaintiffs and their families is the first public event with all Los Angeles-based Plaintiffs since the Court’s historic ruling in Vergara was announced in June. Tuck will be available for media interviews throughout the tour. Please contact the campaign for media availability or to ride on the bus.


  • Community Roundtable – Inglewood: Tuck will meet with key Inglewood community leaders to discuss the state takeover of the district and how to address state failures
  • Media Event with Vergara Plaintiffs: Tuck will be joined by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles-based Plaintiffs who filed the groundbreaking education lawsuit, Vergara v. California, as well as parents and teachers, to talk about Tuck’s commitment to a more equitable education system in California.
    • When: Tuesday, 3:45pm set-up, 4 p.m. Event
    • Where: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Ste. 200, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
    • Additional details: The Vergara Plaintiffs will be making an important announcement. A brief Q&A session with Tuck and Mayor Villaraigosa will follow the formal portion of the press conference.