Having served on the House Education committee over the last decade until my recent retirement, I believe that the Superintendent of Education primary election next Tuesday is the most important race in South Carolina. Here’s why . . .
The recent COVID outbreak again revealed fundamental structural problems with our public school system that platitudes about empowering parents, teachers or students will never fix. To be blunt, these problems date back into the 19th century and are the products of forced segregation and forced integration. These two social upheavals created permanent disparities in educational opportunities available to parents and students, both black and white, that will always exist in our current system.
The structural blame rests with the General Assembly who along with the superintendent of education at the time, added levels of bureaucratic bloat instead of reforming our system as these problems arose.
At this point, we live with an educational leviathan. We have a state Department of Education with 1,100 employees, a 17-member state Board of Education, an 18-member Education Oversight Committee, 80 individual local public-school boards with hundreds of elected board members – all to manage 48,000 teachers who try to educate 760,000 students with very little regulatory guidance on who reports to whom.
Then there are the tax funding sources – local, state and federal – that are directed by the many fingers listed above.
At the top of this heap, we elect a superintendent of education who we expect to manage these competing entities on our behalf while trying to repair an irreparable system. Beware the candidate who pledges allegiance to the current system.
We have several people running for superintendent in the Republican Primary but only one who understands the fundamental need to reform our public school system and has a plan to do it.
I worked with Ellen Weaver on educational issues during the years that I served in the House. Ellen understands the fundamental problems with our current system. She has the knowledge and experience to create new educational opportunities for all our students – not in reaction to the past but envisioned for the future.