Jacobs backs Tuck

Irregular ally U-T San Diego blasts "rapidly aging coterie of teachers"

Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck
  • Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck

Irwin Jacobs, the Democratic La Jolla billionaire who founded Qualcomm, is in the thick of the battle over California's school chief with a $4000 contribution on October 2 to the campaign of charter school advocate Marshall Tuck. Back in May, Jacobs made his first contribution to Tuck, $6800.

Tuck's challenge of incumbent Democrat Tom Torlakson in the race for state superintendent of public instruction has been energized by the case of Vergara v. California, in which a Superior Court judge invalidated much of California’s longtime teacher tenure and seniority system.

Torlakson, backed by the state's teachers’ unions, is backing an appeal. Charter school advocates and others who favor the ruling support Tuck, who opposes the appeal.

Jacobs's backing of fellow Democrat Tuck puts him in league with an unusual political bedfellow and regular election-time foe, U-T San Diego publisher and Republican kingpin Douglas Manchester, whose paper has endorsed Tuck and his vow to improve teacher performance. Said the paper: "California has a rapidly aging coterie of teachers."

In addition to Manchester and Jacobs, other wealthy San Diego backers of Tuck include Rod Dammeyer, another charter school advocate, who has come up with $11,800. Back in 2011, Jacobs and Dammeyer were the biggest donors to a failed initiative campaign to pack the San Diego Unified School District board with four appointed members in addition to its five elected trustees.

Despite his Tuck cash, though, Jacobs appears to have at least one well-heeled liberal ally left.

The La Jollan has been joined in his monetary support of Democratic Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom by fellow Democratic mega-billionaire George Soros, who kicked in $6800 to the Newsom reelection effort October 2. Jacobs and Soros were big money backers of Barack Obama's 2012 re-election, giving millions to a super PAC called "Priorities USA Action."

In March 2012, the San Diego Democrat gave Newsom's 2014 reelection bid $12,000 exactly a month after the former San Francisco mayor wrote a letter attacking state historic preservation officer Milford Wayne Donaldson for questioning a controversial Balboa Park traffic and parking makeover plan then being pushed by Jacobs.

"This is a project with broad local political, philanthropic and community support," asserted Newsom, "so it may be more productive to work in collaboration with the project development team to achieve your goal of preserving this historical open-space."

"As the State Historic Preservation Officer I hope that you will consider these arguments, withdraw your comments, and begin to work in collaboration with the leaders of the Plaza de Panama project."

A court ruling later ended the Jacobs plan, but Donaldson subsequently lost his job.

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Irwin Jacobs' Balboa Park plan was a rich old man's plan-- favoring his buddies who own the Prado and the valet parking concession. Because, hey, rich people need valet parking, no matter how much it screws up a dumb old historic bridge.

As for his support for right wing causes like trashing teachers and supporting charter schools at the expense of public schools, with liberals like that who needs conservatives?

Older teachers are our better teachers. I feel Irwin Jacobs, and anyone who trashes and degrades our older teachers is an elitist. He is out of touch with public education. Teacher-bashing is done by people who were either below-average students, or people who attended private schools. Period. San Diego's finest educators are over 50. Rich people make money off charter schools. Quit tearing pieces off of our public education! Shame on Irwin Jacobs.

I second that motion. One of the persistent complaints of the teacher retirement system is that it allowed (encouraged) teachers to retire in their 50's. And it does provide an incentive for many teachers, who might otherwise continue to teach, to leave once they have thirty years, more of less, of service in the system. So, which is it, they retire too soon, or they are generally too old?

Be very, very suspicious of anyone who advocates for more charter schools. Many, maybe most, misrepresent themselves and what they accomplish. They make it work by underpaying their teachers, and by keeping them in constant fear of job loss. It would be so nice if the charters did what they were expected to to, namely use their flexibility to innovate and really do things more efficiently and effectively. Sadly, once they get the charter, there's usually no scrutiny of how they use and misuse the public funds they receive.

Jacobs is behaving strangely and his politics are inconsistent from day to day, month to month, and year to year. He needs to get out of politics now and go back to being a philanthropist. I'd say his age is getting to him, and that he's befuddled at best.

I'm sick to death of billionaires who think they know better then everyone else. Sociopathic in their nature they act as if they and they alone have the answers.

It's not so much that billionaires think they know better than everyone else, it's the suck up crowd that surrounds them and gives them the platform and do their bidding hoping the King will let them kiss his ring.

Maybe SD is fortunate to have so few billionaires in the area. Jacobs is a good example of how they can buy politicians and impose their will on a city, or at least try. Let's all hope that Jacobs doesn't come up with any more cockamamie ideas and try to force feed them to us. His political picks, Nate Fletcher being the best example, aren't doing so well. There is some cause for optimism.

Matt Potter presents Irwin Jacobs' support for Marshall Tuck for Superintendent of Public Instruction in simplistic Us vs.Them terms to rile up the Readership. This is an important election that deserves serious attention. Potter drags in Jacobs' unfortunate local ventures but does not focus on this education race as it relates to education outcomes.

Personally, I am voting for Marshall Tuck as a genuine education reformer. His opponent Tom Torlakson is a business-as-usual favor-trading pol.

Electing Marshall Tuck to State Superintendent of Public Instruction could mean an end to the chokehold of the powerful California Teachers Association -- the richest lobby in all Sacramento with more money to spend even than Big Oil -- over the way California public schools have been run for the last 40 years. CTA is architect and guardian of the longstanding California trade-off that leaves students out in the cold: highest teacher pay in the nation in return for largest class sizes in the nation and near-lowest amount spent per pupil among all 50 states. Terrible. Disastrous for most of California's kids.

Do we want more of same? I don't think so. Marshall Tuck believes in public education and has worked in inner-city Los Angeles to establish successful Green Dot charter schools to benefit children. Current State Supe Tom Torlakson is a termed-out state legislator, one-time-teacher-turned-politician and tool of the California Teachers Association. Torlakson is a placeholder for CTA and is seeking a second term. All of Torlakson's political campaigns have been heavily financed by the cash-rich CTA.

Voters who want to see positive change actually benefit public school students support Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Tuck believes that well-run charter schools have a place in the public school mix, as charters are permitted by state law and work well when managed well. Look at our own Preuss School at UCSD, Gompers Academy, High Tech High and Einstein Academy.

Charter school numbers are growing because parents in many communities, especially inner cities, are desperate for something better for their children than places like the scandalous MiraMonte Elementary in Los Angeles which led to the Vergara lawsuit.

Marshall Tuck is an intelligent good man, not a hack. If Irwin Jacobs is supporting Tuck's campaign -- modestly, by the way -- there are many worse things in this complicated world of strange bedfellows. Tuck is an independent thinker, but he needs money to counter the CTA blitz. Irwin Jacobs has long had an interest in public education and, in this instance, his interest in well-founded.

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