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SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman not seeking re-election in 2022

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:26 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s superintendent of education will not seek re-election in 2022.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced on Wednesday that she would not seek re-election once her current term ends in 2023.

“A strong public education system that offers every student, no matter where they live, the opportunity to be prepared for a successful and productive life is key to the future of our state, nation, and world,” Spearman said. “I have been honored to serve and devote my life to this important work first as a teacher and principal, then as a legislator, senior staff member at the Department, an education association leader, and finally as State Superintendent of Education.”

Spearman has served as Superintendent of Education since 2015.

My career in public service would not have happened without the lessons taught by my parents, and the love and support of my family, neighbors and friends, Spearman said. “I am humbled that a little girl from a dairy farm in Saluda County has had the chance to serve her community and state for over forty years.”

Before serving as Superintendent, Spearman was an assistant school principal and music teacher with more than 18 years of classroom experience. Spearman also served in the South Carolina House of Representatives as the representative for House District 29 for four terms.

The Republican leader’s term has come with criticism and praise from both parties.

“When I took office in 2015, South Carolina was using nationalized Common Core State Standards, had one of the lowest teacher pay rates in the country, had a dangerous, antiquated school bus fleet, our small, rural school districts were operating inefficiently, and the needs of our state’s workforce were not being met,” she said in her announcement.

In 2019, an estimated 10,000 people participated in the #AllOutMay1 teacher’s rally where teachers and educators protested outside of the State House asking for more lawmaker support.

At the time protestors with SC for ED were chanting “Where’s Molly? Where’s Molly?”. Spearman had announced before that day that she did not support teachers leaving the classroom, but did support teachers advocating for reform.

Most recently, Spearman was leading the Department as South Carolina schools were navigating COVID-19.

Controversies surrounding mask mandates, vaccines, and other COVID safety protocols put her in conflict with Gov. Henry McMaster at times as she spoke against the temporary state law restricting mask mandates in schools and the Governor supported it.

SC Republican Party Chairman wished Spearman well in a statement after her announcement.

“More than most, Molly recognizes the power a strong education has on a child’s life. Education empowers our next generation, regardless of their zip code, gender, race, or income, and she’s worked hard to ensure children receive that education,” Chairman McKissick said. “We are grateful for her contributions to our state and Party and wish her well in this next chapter.”

Former Democratic state lawmaker, Mandy Powers Norrell said that Spearman has “been a good Superintendent.”

“I sometimes disagreed with her, but more often I agreed. She stood strong against her own party and for students and families. She was so much better than the alternatives. I pray our next Super is just as strong!” Norrell posted on Twitter.

State lawmakers have proposed moving the role of Superintendent of Education from an elected position to an appointed one. Under this bill, the Governor would appoint a Superintendent and the appointment would be approved by the general assembly.

This bill was not considered for a floor vote in the most recent legislative session.

In her statement, Spearman promised to continue to work hard for the rest of her term.

“I will continue to work diligently to help us rise out of the pandemic stronger than before while advocating for the needs of our students, educators, and families,” she said.

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