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2 Democrats won “open” primary to square off Nov. 3
:  Teacher/legislator vs. retired superintendent

November 1, 2010 (San Diego) – When Republican Abel Maldonado held up the state budget and demanded fellow legislators approve an “open” primary ballot initiative as a condition for his vote, the GOP thought it would result in more Republicans winning high office in California, a heavily Democratic state.


But the new rule, which declared the top two vote-getters in June's primary winners regardless of parties, resulted in two Democrats, Tom Torlakson and Larry Aceves, squaring off in the state superintendent’s race (though Aceves has since changed his party registration to independent).


Torlakson, currently a state Assemblyman, is also a second-generation teacher. He taught science and coached sports in Contra Costra County. He has won numerous teaching awards, including Community College Association educator of the year.   As a legislator, he authored bills that supported after school programs. He backed programs to reduce the drop out rate, supported school funding to assure academic success, and authored the Quality Education Improvement Act in 2006, which allocated additional funds to the lowest performing schools. He’s also worked to improve safety of college campuses and improve student health and fitness. He has also served as a fireman in the U.S. Merchant Marine, earning a Vietnam Service Medal. He holds a B.A. in history, a life secondary teaching credential, and an M.A. in education from the University of California, Berkeley.

Torlakson is endorsed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Faculty Association and numerous other public unions, the Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, Latino Times, Black Voices News, San Francisco Bay Guardian, many law enforcement and public safety officials, the Democratic Party of San Diego, and a pages-long list of public officials from Congress through school boards.

He says he will be the “leading advocate for restoring and increasing the state’s investment in our schools.” Torlakson wants to expand career and technical education for high school students, protect college prep courses, arts and music, assure high standards of academic excellence, support a competitive 21st century school environment including technology, assure access to quality physical education and healthcare, hold schools –including charter schools—accountable, empower parents to be more involved with students’ education, and restore the promise of California’s higher education system including enhancing Cal Grant for students.

Larry Aceves is a former teacher, principal and superintendent. He served in school districts in San Jose, San Diego and the Central Coast. His bio states that as a school district superintendent, he worked with public and private sectors to establish programs and facilities including a free medical and dental clinic for low-income children, preschool programs, English language development programs gang prevention training and community centers. He also championed maintaining music, arts and physical education. He says his first priority if elected will be to work with legislators to make them understand the “critical need for adequate funding for all schools and programs.” He faults the steep decline in school funding for California’s schools falling from having the highest academic standards in the nation to now among the lowest scores nationwide.

He also pledges to fight for adequate school funding. He wants to see teachers and superintendents held accountable, but believes they deserve support and that students need access to up-to-date textbooks, materials, technology and career technical training. He wants to help the 6.2 mlilion students in California’s public schools become “quality 21st century learners.” He has also called for curtailing the power of teachers' unions and making it easier to fire poor-performing teachers.

Aceves’ endorsements include numerous superintendents, teachers and other educators in local districts, the Los Angeles Times, Fresno Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Green Party, La Raza Roundtable de California.

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State Superintendent race. Write in Candidate Diane Lenning

There is a third choice: Diane Lenning for SSPI. She is the only certified write in candidate. Diane is a fiscal conservative, and has taught 30 years. She is the only one of the 3 who has recent teaching experience. She is the only one who has taught in juvenile hall. She is the only one who has a concrete solution to class discipline, the Peters Procedure program. She is a 3rd year law student. Check out her website