California’s top education official, Tony Thurmond, on Tuesday announced his bid for governor in 2026, a move that comes amid debates over student rights and parents, and what role the state should play as school boards. approve class materials.
If elected, Thurmond, the superintendent of public instruction, would become the first Black to become governor of California. He said he wants to address income inequality, ensure schools are better funded and accelerate the state’s transition to renewable energy.
“Our campaign is not about any one person. It’s about the people who are struggling in our state,” the Democrat said in an ad announcing his campaign. “California should be a place where everyone has a chance.” to succeed.”
He is joining an already crowded race for governor, even though the election is more than three years away. California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and former state controller Betty Yee, both Democrats, have also announced their own bids, and Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta said he is considering joining the race.
Current Governor Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, will not seek a third term.
Before Thurmond became state superintendent in 2019, he served on the West Contra Costa School Board, the Richmond City Council and the state Assembly. In 2021, he was criticized after helping hire his friend, a psychologist who lives in Philadelphia, as the state’s first superintendent of equity, Politico reported. The officer later resigned.
Thurmond has recently been embroiled in several debates over school board policies, and he was kicked out of a Southern California school board meeting over the summer for opposing a policy that required public notice of school staff parents when their child changes their pronouns or gender identity. Bonta sued the Chino Valley district over the policy, saying it discriminated against students. A judge halted the policy while the litigation played out.
Thurmond supported a bill Newsom signed Monday to prohibit school boards from rejecting textbooks because they teach about the contributions of people from different racial backgrounds, sexual orientations or gender identities. .
The legislation gained additional attention this summer when a Southern California school board rejected a social studies curriculum for elementary students that included additional material that referenced Harvey Milk, who is a politician. of San Francisco and gay rights advocate. Newsom threatened the board with a $1.5 million fine. The school board later went back on course.