BUZZ: New director named for SC education advocacy group

Posted by JAMIE SELF on January 27, 2014 

— Regina Hitchcock, a former lobbyist for the S.C. Medical Association, is the new state director for StudentsFirst -- a Sacramento-education advocacy group that launched its S.C. operation last year.

Hitchcock worked for the S.C. Medical Association for six years before starting her own consulting firm, where she represented the association during the last legislative session.

Prior to lobbying, Hitchcock worked in other roles in the State House, starting as a page for the House Ways and Means Committee and later as a budget analyst for the Senate Finance Committee, according to a news release.

“As a parent with a child just starting school, and another not far behind, the importance of giving them a great teacher at a great school has never hit so close to home,” Hitchcock said in the release. “Every kid deserves to be taught by a quality teacher, and every parent deserves to have at least one great option available to them. I’m thrilled to have the chance to help make a good education a reality, not just for my children, but for all children in South Carolina.”

Hitchcock said she will focus on growing the organization's grassroots network and encouraging parents and teachers to get involved in the legislative process and voice their concerns about education policy.

Formed in 2010, StudentsFirst is led by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who gained fame after firing a teacher on television and eating a bee that flew into her classroom -- an experience that later inspired the title of a book about her.

The organization has lobbying efforts in 18 states and wants to make South Carolina a priority, said Lane Wright, a regional spokesman for StudentsFirst.

This year, the group's top priority is a bill, sponsored by state Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Beaufort, that would evaluate teachers based in part on how well students improve on tests and tie performance reviews to personnel decisions.

Patrick dropped his bid to run as a Republican for S.C. Superintendent of Education on Wednesday.

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