State schools superintendent candidate Marshall Tuck (right) and Mayor Kevin Faulconer listen to Preuss School Principal Scott Barton. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The challenger in what’s expected to be a close race for state superintendent of public instruction campaigned Monday with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer at the nationally recognized Preuss School in La Jolla.

“This is what all kids should have. It’s serving the highest-need students in San Diego and it’s graduating nearly all of them,” said Marshall Tuck, a candidate for California superintendent of public instruction.

Tuck said he made a point of visiting the Preuss school on the day before the election because he believes most Californians want to see major change in public schools.

“You have a lot of schools still stuck where schools were decades ago,” said the charter-school advocate who headed former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s partnership to operate 17 struggling public schools serving 15,000.

The Preuss school was founded in 1999 as a charter high school for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. U.S. News & World Report ranks it as the best high school in San Diego County and Newsweek calls it the “top transformative” school in the country. Some 31 graduates have received college scholarships from the prestigious Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tuck and Faulconer shook hands with students as buses arrived, many of them from San Ysidro and other low-income areas of south San Diego.

Tuck faces incumbent Tom Torlakson, who has the support of teachers unions. Tuck said the polls show a dead head, though he expects undecided voters to give him the majority.

“We’re taking on, frankly, the establishment,” he said

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