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Politico Report Accuses State Education Superintendent of Creating a Toxic Workplace

Official portrait of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Background Photo: Prayitnophotography - Flickr Creative Commons
Portrait: California Department of Education
Official portrait of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Last week a report released by Politico accused California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond of creating a toxic workplace.

Politico education beat reporter Mackenzie Mays wrote the report. I sat down with Mays for a 7-minute interview to discuss her piece and her most significant findings.

Tony Thurmond has only been in office since Jan. 2019 but has seen nearly two dozen senior staff officials leave. Mays report says that "Nine former state education officials said that morale is so low and turnover so high that CDE cannot efficiently operate as Thurmond allegedly humiliated and intimidated staff."

One employee attributed the behavior to Thurmond's campaign and that the concentration wasn't on students' educations. They said, "It's not the California Department of Education. It's Tony Thurmond's campaign headquarters. It's not about the students of California."

The California Department of Educations spokesperson did speak with Mays. Maria Clayton told her, "This is demanding work, and the superintendent has high expectations of staff — because he knows that kids don't get a second chance at childhood. That reality defines his approach to the job and how he believes the Department should fulfill its important mission — especially in this time of great need."

If you'd like to read more of Mays's report, you can CLICK HERE.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.
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