Tony ThurmondState Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Tony Thurmond was sworn in as the 28th California State Superintendent of Public Instruction on January 7, 2019.
Superintendent Thurmond is an educator, social worker, and public school parent, who has served the people of California for more than ten years in elected office. Previously, he served on the Richmond City Council, West Contra Costa Unified School Board, and in the California State Assembly representing District 15.
Like many of California’s public school students, Superintendent Thurmond came from humble beginnings. His mother was an immigrant from Panama who came to San Jose, California, to be a teacher. His father was a soldier who didn’t return to his family after the Vietnam War. He met him for the first time when he was an adult. After his mother died when he was six, Thurmond and his brother were raised by a cousin who they had never met.
Superintendent Thurmond’s family relied on public assistance programs and great public schools to get out of poverty and public school education allowed him to attend Temple University, where he became student body president. He went on to earn dual master's degrees in Law and Social Policy and Social Work (MSW) from Bryn Mawr College and began a career dedicated to service.
Much of Superintendent Thurmond’s social service work has focused on improving the services provided to foster youth and directing programs that provide job training to at-risk youth. He also led programs to provide help for individuals with developmental disabilities. He has 12 years of direct experience in education, teaching life skills classes, after school programs, and career training.
Over the course of Thurmond's tenure since being sworn in as State Superintendent, he has championed and created many historic initiatives on behalf of California's students. These include:
- Secured $6.6 billion in funding to safely reopen California schools for in-person instruction during the pandemic.
- Distributed 920 million school meals to students during the pandemic.
- Allocated $90 million for suspensions and chronic absenteeism programming.
- Secured face coverings and personal protective equipment for all students and school staff across the state, as well as deploying up to 3 million rapid COVID-19 antigen tests at no cost to those in California's most disadvantaged school districts.
- Established the first-ever Office of Equity within the California Department of Education (CDE), promoting social justice, and the implementation of programs supporting the academic achievement of California's lowest-income students
- Launched the California Taskforce on Closing the Digital Divide, using it to expand access to low-cost internet to thousands of school children and families, coordinate the distribution of over 1 million devices to low-income households and establish an Innovation Challenge by raising $1 million.
- Helped secure resources in the state budget to expand community schools, which support the needs of the whole child, including mental and behavioral health, trauma-informed care, social-emotional learning, restorative justice, and other key areas.
- Increased awareness and assistance for student mental health issues since the beginning of the pandemic, including the creation of a Family Engagement Unit at CDE, which helps school districts empower families around a variety of needs including digital literacy, social emotional learning, home/school communication, and supporting learning at home.
Superintendent Thurmond served on the Richmond City Council from 2005-2008. While on the council, he served as Liaison to Richmond’s Youth Commission and Workforce Investment Board and the Council Liaison to the West Contra Costa Unified School District. He was chair of Richmond's 2005 Summer Youth Program which employed 200 local teens.
Between 2008-2012, Superintendent Thurmond served in the West Contra Costa Unified School Board, where he coordinated a plan to keep schools open during the 2008 recession. He helped restore fiscal solvency and local control to the school board while supporting campaigns to put millions of dollars toward preserving counseling, afterschool, music, and athletic programs. Under his leadership, the school board rebuilt dozens of schools to provide state-of-the-art student learning facilities.
Superintendent Thurmond funded programs to help students learn about and apply to top universities. He also led efforts to expand drug and alcohol treatment services for youth, and to bring nutrition and wellness programs to schools. Additionally, he spearheaded a campaign that reduced school suspensions by 27 percent.
In the State Assembly, Superintendent Thurmond served on the Assembly Education, Health, and Human Services Committees. He chaired the Assembly Labor Committee and the Assembly Select Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education.
Education is at the core of Superintendent Thurmond’s legislative record. He authored legislation that successfully expanded the free lunch program, bilingual education, and the Chafee Grant college scholarship program for foster youth. Additionally, Thurmond’s legislation guaranteed preferential voting rights for student school board members, improved access to families for early education and child care, and shifted millions of dollars directly from prisons to schools. He introduced legislation to expand STEM education, improve school conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) youth, and tax private prisons to fund early education and afterschool programs.
In recognition of his social service leadership, Superintendent Thurmond has been a Fellow in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship program.
Superintendent Thurmond lives in Richmond with his two daughters, who attend local public schools. They are his inspiration and a constant reminder about the promise of our neighborhood schools and the strong future that every child deserves.