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Gov. Appointment of State Supt. DEFEATED

on Wed, 08/07/2013 - 16:38

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This series of bills would have taken away your right to vote for State Superintendent and given the Governor the power to appoint a State Superintendent.

Columbia’s The State newspaper credited “opposition from the education community,” for stopping it.  Let’s not mince words: this bill was on track for passage until EdFirstSC and The SCEA intervened.  Every other education group actively supported it.

We targeted key Senators and had members reach out in opposition.  The bill died a lingering death on the Senate calendar, as sponsors tried unsuccessfully to revive it.

Supporters pointed out that gubernatorial appointment is not an uncommon arrangement.  It would ensure that our Governor and State Superintendent share an agenda.  Yeah, our thoughts exactly. 

This is largely the case right now, with Gov. Haley and State Supt-for-Now Mick Zais largely in Tea Party lockstep.  How’s that working out for schools and educators?  It’s worth noting that both Haley and Zais supported the measure.

Context is everything.  Historically, voters in South Carolina have made a very clear distinction between the values they want in a Governor and the values they want in a State Superintendent of Education.  Even while voting for fiscally conservative governors like Mark Sanford, they’ve elected State Superintendents who support the mission of public education and respect the professionals working in schools.

In selecting Mick Zais in 2010, voters chose a person who has repeatedly placed his allegiance to ideology over the best interests of children.  He has alienated stakeholders from across the political spectrum, and demonstrated his contempt for educators with ludicrous and punitive “reform” efforts.

That’s unfortunate.  It’s also fixable.

We like to hope that 2010 was sort of a conservative equivalent to 1969: people got a little carried away, and some questionable decisions were made.  After four years of chaos and discord, we’ll have the opportunity next year to help our community see that South Carolina public schools need and deserve a supportive leader.  Promising candidates from both parties are emerging to challenge Mick Zais, and EdFirstSC will be active in supporting their candidacies.

This bill would have removed that remedy, offering future State Superintendents up to eight years of job security, so long as they please the Governor.

The final bill that was presented had some very positive features.  It would have set minimum, common-sense qualifications for this key office.  It would narrowly exclude someone with Mick Zais’ resume, beginning in 2018.

A bill that did only that would have our support.  A bill that concentrates more power over education in the hands of the Governor at the expense of democratic voice will not. 

Join EdFirstSC at no cost if you have not done so.