Incumbent Eastin heads for new term

State schools chief Delaine Eastin appeared headed to victory in her bid for re-election Tuesday night, fending off a challenge from Gloria Matta Tuchman, a teacher and co-author of a June measure that ended most bilingual education programs in California public schools.

Tuchman was leading in Orange County and in several counties in the Central Valley, while Eastin maintained the edge in more liberal areas — San Francisco, Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties.

Throughout the campaign Eastin tried to portray Tuchman as an extremist who supported giving public money to private schools and accepted contributions from individuals with close ties to right-wing causes. Tuchman, meanwhile, questioned Eastin’s ability to lead and blamed her for the public’s lack of faith in California public schools.

Tuchman benefited from a $500,000 last-minute contribution from David Woodley Packard, son of the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, who agreed with her view the phonics-based instruction was critical in teaching children to read.

Eastin campaigned for increased funding of the state’s schools, arguing that excellence will remain elusive in a state where per pupil spending is $756 below the national average. Tuchman, who also ran for the office in 1994, had pledged to bring “basics” back to California classrooms and aggressively enforce the provisions of Proposition 227. Eastin had opposed the measure, but pledged to enforce its provisions.

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