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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell has endorsed Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, in the race to replace him as the state's schools chief.

"As a teacher and education reformer in the Legislature, Tom has demonstrated the energy, creativity, experience, and passion to put children first. Tom will continue the fight to reform our school system. He is a proven coalition builder, and someone I know will bring people together to improve our schools," O'Connell , who is termed out, said in a statement released Thursday.

Torlakson is one of 12 candidates running for the top California Department of Education post. His primary opponents are state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, and former school district superintendent and educator Larry Aceves.

Torlakson is supported by the state's major teachers unions, including California Teachers Association and the Californian Federation of Teachers, while Romero's campaign is backed by EdVoice, an education non-profit that supports charter school expansion, teachers evaluation and other changes anathema to the teachers' unions. The Association of California School Administrators has been spending heavily to support Aceves.

If no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan primary advance to the general election.


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