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Oakland, SF education officials meet with Obama

Three California education officials – including two from the Bay Area – met Monday morning with President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to highlight the need for funding as Congress mulls a new budget and a revamp of the No Child Left Behind law.

Jumoke Hinton HodgeOakland Unified School District board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza and Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Mike Hanson were among the dozen officials from across the nation who met with Obama and Duncan at the White House.

All were from districts that are part of the Council of the Great City Schools; Hodge chairs the board of that national organization, which represents the needs of urban public schools. School districts eligible for membership must be located in cities with populations over 250,000 and student enrollment over 35,000.

Obama said in the meeting that he’s ready to fight with Republicans for school funding and his education priorities, the Associated Press reported. He hopes that Republican lawmakers focus on educating every child and not shifting money away from needy districts, he said; he’s also calling for a focus on low-performing schools, annual assessments and investments in special education and English-language learners.

If the Republican budget doesn’t reflect those priorities, he said, they will have “a major debate.”

“My hope is that their budget reflects the priorities of educating every child,” he said, according to a pool report from the New York Post’s Geoff Earle. “We are making too much progress here … for us to be going backwards now.”

Obama and Duncan are touting improved high-school graduation rates as evidence that the administration’s policies are working. In California, the high school graduation rates from 2012 to 2013 increased by 2.4 percent overall, including a 2.7 percent increase for Hispanic students and a 2.1 percent increase for African-American students.

Richard CarranzaHinton Hodge is co-founder of the Parent Leadership and Engagement Academy Initiative (PLEA), a community-building project dedicated to the education and support of West Oakland parents and families. She collaborated with California Tomorrow to develop programs aimed at increasing parents’ ability to navigate the public school system; has worked extensively with low-income youth and students identified as severely emotionally disturbed; and she has provided gender-specific services to urban girls.

Carranza has been San Francisco’s schools superintendent since June 2012; earlier, he had been the district’s deputy superintendent of instruction, innovation and social justice at the district since 2009.

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Actors tout Tuck for schools superintendent

Marshall Tuck, the Los Angeles school-reform advocate who’s running neck and neck with incumbent Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction, has added a little star power to his campaign.

Tuck’s new two-and-a-half minute campaign video features actors Joel McHale, Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell and Adam Scott sitting down with the candidate in a “strategy session.”

My favorite line (of course): “You’ve been endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle. Who gives a s—?”

Tuck’s campaign issued a news release saying that while the video provides some humor amid a heated campaign, it takes a serious look at key issues facing the race.

“As a parent, I want to make sure we give every child access to a great education,” Bell said in the news release.

Celebrity factoid: Of these four actors, only Scott is a California native, born in Santa Cruz. Bell and Shepard hail from Detroit’s suburbs, McHale from Seattle.

UPDATE @ 11:47 A.M.: Good questions from Twitter follower Steven Herbert: “Do any of them have children old enough to be in public schools? If so, how many are in public schools?”

Bell and Shepard have one daughter, Lincoln Bell Shepard, born in March 2013, and they’re now expecting a second child; they live in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. Scott and his wife, Naomi, have two children, son Graham, 7, and daughter Frankie, 5, and live in LA’s Hollywood Hills section. McHale and his wife, Sarah Williams, have two sons, Eddie, 8, and Isaac, 6; they live in Hollywood Hills as well.

I don’t know what schools the kids attend.

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Checking in on money in Torlakson-Tuck race

In today’s story about the Field Poll showing Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a dead heat with challenger Marshall Tuck, I didn’t have room to mention that Tuck appears to have outraised Torlakson in recent months.

Marshall TuckReports filed with the secretary of state’s office show Torlakson’s campaign had about $195,000 cash on hand as of June 30, and he looks to have raised at least about $239,000 in major donations since then. Tuck had about $180,000 banked at mid-year, and seems to have raised about $303,000 since.

That said, Torlakson is likely to be the beneficiary of massive independent spending by the teachers’ unions as the general-election season proceeds, just as he was before the primary. Tuck has received more modest but still-significant IE support from Manhattan Beach real estate mogul William Bloomfield Jr. (traditionally a giver to GOP causes and committees, though Tuck is a Democrat) and the California Senior Advocates League (which is funded mainly by Bloomfield and Eli Broad).

Tom TorlaksonTorlakson has fundraising receptions scheduled for Wednesday in Sacramento, with tickets costing $100 to $6,800 each, and Thursday in Salinas, for $100 to $5,000; he also is asking $75 to $6,800 for tickets to his annual BBQ on Saturday, Oct. 4 at a union hall in Martinez.

Tuck did a whirlwind bus tour last week through Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, Stockton, San Jose and Oakland. He has a fundraiser set for Thursday, Sept. 18 in Costa Mesa, with tickets costing from $100 to $6,800, and he’s scheduled to address the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday, Sept. 25.

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Money matchups: AD15, AD16, AD25 & more

We’re hard at work crunching campaign finance reports today, and while we’ve featured a few in the story for tomorrow’s print editions, here are a few other notable Bay Area races to watch.

15TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

  • Democrat Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, raised $120,102 – including a $15,000 loan from her own pocket – and spent $70,192 in 2013’s latter half; her campaign had $120,136 cash on and $23,439 in debts at year’s end.
  • Democrat Sam Kang of Emeryville, general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group, raised $83,070 and spent $38,714, leaving him with $112,453 cash on hand with $2,936 in debts.
  • Democrat Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board, raised $47,287 and spent $30,107, leaving $66,164 cash on hand with $7,250 in debts.
  • Democrat Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member, raised $62,728 and spent $47,569, winding up with $55,767 cash on hand and $13,213 in debts.
  • Democrat Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • Republican Richard Kinney, a San Pablo councilman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • 16th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, a Democrat who was political adviser to Brown’s 2010 campaign, raised $111,718 and spent $20,987 in 2013’s second half, finishing the year with $329,074 cash on hand and $705 in debts.
  • Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, raised $105,590 in 2013’s second half while spending $118,381; his campaign had $94,203 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $16,022 in debts.
  • Attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin, raised $123,920 in 2013’s second half – including $4,100 from her own pocket – while spending $18,436; her campaign had $109,989 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $4,505 in debts.
  • Danville Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich, a Democrat, hasn’t filed his report yet.
  • 25th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, raised $66,015 and spent $22,153 in the second half of 2013; he had $201,695 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $1,843 in debts.
  • Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez, a Democrat, raisd $168,499 and spent $22,168 in 2013’s second half; his campaign had $155,431 cash on hand and no debt at the year’s end.
  • Former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler, a Democrat, raised $111,167 in the second half of 2013 while spending $7,999; his campaign had $104,289 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $9,717 in debts.
  • Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox, a Democrat, raised $90,772 and spent $32,389 in 2013’s second half; her campaign had $93,295 cash on hand but $80,668 in debts as of Dec. 31.
  • California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, seeking re-election to a second four-year term in the nonpartisan post, raised $592,775 in 2013’s second half while spending $210,999. The Pittsburg Democrat’s campaign had $556,561 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $53,814 in outstanding debts.

    But a Democratic challenger from Southern California hit the ground running with an impressive haul. Marshall Tuck, founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, raised $532,175 in 2013’s second half while spending $168,901; his campaign had $399,685 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $36,397 in outstanding debts.

    Lydia Gutierrez, an independent teacher from San Pedro who also sought this office in 2010, hasn’t filed a report yet.

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    Tom Torlakson outspent Larry Aceves 5-to-1

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson‘s 2010 campaign outraised and outspent his rival’s in last year’s election by about 5-to-1, according to campaign finance reports filed last night.

    Larry AcevesThe longtime lawmaker from Antioch raised about $2.47 million and spent about $2.49 million in 2009-10, while the campaign of Larry Aceves, a former school administrator from Fremont, raised about $504,000 and spent about $501,000.

    The candidates’ campaign committees don’t tell the whole story, however – each had substantial independent expenditures made on his behalf.

    The Association of California School Administrators funded an independent expenditure committee supporting Aceves to the tune of almost $2.46 million in 2009-10.

    Still, Torlakson had the money advantage: An IE committee created in May by the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association spent about $3.95 million in 2010 on his behalf.

    Torlakson and Aceves were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 12 candidates in June’s primary; Aceves actually finished on top with 19.2 percent of the vote to Torlakson’s 18.6 percent. But in November’s runoff for the nonpartisan seat, Torlakson dominated with 54.6 percent of the vote to Aceves’ 44.9 percent (as a write-in candidate drew off 0.5 percent of the vote).