Updated: Jan 29
BY TODD SCHOLL
With Molly Spearman announcing that she will not seek reelection for SC Superintendent of Education, we are guaranteed a new person will helm the department during a challenging and important era in our state's history.
As candidates are announced, it is critical that we understand precisely what their mindsets are so we can all vote with eyes wide open for a leader who will truly support and protect our public schools.
With that in mind, I invite all candidates to share their thoughts on these ten questions. If you have more, please feel free to leave them in the comments.
How will you strengthen teacher recruitment and retention? How will you make educators feel valued and respected again. What will you do to ease overburdened educators, ensuring they are able to have a work/life balance and be treated as professionals?
Do you support ANY efforts to divert funds from public schools to private schools in the form of vouchers, education savings accounts, etc.? If so, explain how this will not hurt the public schools you intend to lead. If not, explain why you oppose these efforts.
What do you understand Critical Race Theory (CRT) to be? Where is it being taught in a South Carolina public school? If you oppose CRT, what, precisely, do you oppose? Is it important for all students to understand the full and true history of all people in this country, particularly those who have been brutalized, marginalized, and discriminated against? If so, why? If not, please explain.
How will you ensure that LGBTQ+ educators and students feel safe, protected, and represented within our public schools?
Should we have mask mandates in schools when COVID spread is at high levels? If so, how would you work to ensure that happens? If not, why?
In what ways have standardized testing, and the accountability movement that surrounds it, hurt public education? How will you work to address these issues?
When education reformers say, "students first," what do you think they mean by that? WHO, precisely, ISN'T putting students first and HOW are they not putting students first?
Are teachers indoctrinating students? If so, provide specific examples in South Carolina where you believe this is happening. If not, why do you believe this charge is being leveled at educators?
What role should social-emotional learning have in our public schools?
What is the last book you read? Why did you read it?
We are at a critical crossroads in South Carolina. The forces who would privatize schools, send us backwards on social justice, and continue the demonization of public educators are loud, incessant, ignorant, and seemingly immune to reason. Our next Superintendent of Education must be willing to stand up to these forces firmly to defend our public schools and support the educators who are working hard every day to help every child reach his/her greatest potential.
South Carolina's educators and students need a champion, not a politician who will acquiesce to ignorance and kowtow to state leaders who are working to dismantle our public schools. We need a leader with courage, conviction, wisdom, and compassion.
The SCEA stands ready to work with such a leader to deliver the schools our educators and their students deserve. Our voice is stronger when we speak and act as one. We would be honored if you joined our movement.