A red, white and blue banner hung in the teachers’ lounge Wednesday: “Congratulations, Gloria, We knew you could do it! “
Gloria Matta Tuchman came home to Taft Elementary in Santa Ana, one day after finding herself in a surprise runoff election against incumbent Delaine Eastin to be the state superintendent of public instruction.
Back to reading time with 20 first-graders, back to disciplining name callers, back to teaching.
During her lunch break, she talked about her role as co-author of Proposition 227, which passed Tuesday and ends the state’s 30-year experiment with bilingual education, and her plans if elected state superintendent.
Q: What are the key issues that brought voters out to vote for you?
A: Well, I was the co-author of the back-to-basics movement. I’m a strong supporter of phonics. And the fact that my ballot designation read “parent and schoolteacher. ” They said that I was just a first-grade teacher as they say some women are just housewives. I don’t profess that I know all the answers, but they can’t say I don’t have expertise in legislation. I’ve blocked four other bilingual bills and won the support of 40 legislators (for 227).
Q: How much do you think the initiative (Prop. 227) helped your race?
A: It helped a lot for name recognition, but I’ve spent 13 years fighting bilingual education _ it’s nothing new.
Q: Why do you think the initiative was so popular?
A: We had high support from the minority groups. Seventy-percent from Asians. Sixty-one percent of the Latino vote. We kept in touch with the people, with the parents, not the Hispanic lobbyists.
Q: Do you think lawsuits will delay the implementation of the initiative?
A: I don’t foresee a delay because we’ve written such a good initiative. When President Clinton came out to oppose our initiative, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley said it would pass federal inspection.
Q:How are you preparing for the runoff race in November?
A: I’m hoping I won’t collapse. I’ve got to finish up the school year first. I’m up for debates if Delaine Eastin is. I’m knowledgeable about education issues because I’m in the trenches every day.
Q: How do you think you can effect change as superintendent of schools, considering the state school board is such a powerful body?
A: They will have respect. The political makeup of the board can change, but I think it would be hard to argue with someone who has the best interest for children at heart.