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State Superintendent Visits Patrick Henry High, Touts Prop 30

Tom Torlakson, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, talks to KPBS about his "Strong Schools for a Strong Economy" tour and Proposition 30.


Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Richard Barerra, Trustee, San Diego Unified School District Board of Education


Tom Torlakson thinks that California students should not only be ready for college when they graduate from high school, but also should be ready to go to work with the right skills for the modern economy.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction has visited five high schools on his "Strong Schools for a Strong Economy" tour, which ends today at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego.

Torlakson said he hopes the tour will make voters realize the link between California's education system and the state's economy. The idea is that the school curriculum should connect students to careers and the "modern world of work," in which jobs increasingly call for technical, scientific and mathematical skills.

The students at Patrick Henry were a "shining example of what's best in California education," Torlakson told KPBS.

"We saw engaged students, articulate, working in teams, communicating well, hands-on, doing problem solving," he said.

The "Strong Schools for a Strong Economy" includes hands-on experience.

"This is what employers are looking for," Torlakson said.

During his visit, Torlakson also touted Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's tax measure that would raise funds for schools.

He said it's a way to "reinvest in our schools."

"About a year and a half ago, Californians were paying another $5 to $6 billion in taxes, and we're just saying restore that money," he said.

He said schools have lost 25 percent of their funding and face another 10 percent that could be eliminated.

But Chris Cate with the San Diego Taxpayers Association has told KPBS in the past that rejecting the measure would send an important message that the budget should be balanced through reforms before tax increases.

“We already have the second highest income tax rate in the country, we have the highest sales tax rate in the country,” he said. “If education is their true priority, they should focus on that rather than wasting time, energy and money on things like high-speed rail or other pet projects they want to get done.”

In response, Torlakson said, "I want to say what our special project is. It's our kids."

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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