School administrators chief is 10th candidate for top SC education job

jself@thestate.comFebruary 24, 2014 

  • Superintendent

    of education

    Molly Spearman, 60, candidate seeking GOP nomination

    Family: Lives in Saluda; husband, Bill; two children

    Career: Executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators; previously, S.C. Education Department deputy superintendent for governmental relations under Democratic Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum; public school teacher and assistant principal

    Political career: Elected as a Democrat to S.C. House in 1992; switched to the Republican Party in 1995, and resigned in 1998

    Education: Bachelor’s degree, Lander University; Master’s degree, George Washington University; education specialist degree, University of South Carolina

Molly Spearman, executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators, officially joined the race for state superintendent of education Monday.

Spearman will bring with her about $30,000 in contributions that she said she raised quietly in the past few weeks before making public her bid for the GOP nomination.

The Saluda resident said she decided to run after business and education leaders encouraged her to do so.

Spearman said she is “uniquely qualified” to help Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said she would not endorse a candidate, in carrying out an education funding-reform plan that Haley introduced in her budget proposal this year.

Spearman said she worked with Haley over the past year to bring “talented educators to the table and develop a blueprint” for that proposal. “She understands, as I do, that our graduates need to be prepared for a successful career, not just a job,” Spearman said.

Spearman’s entry in the race increases to 10 the number of candidates seeking the job, eight Republicans and two Democrats. Republican state schools chief Mick Zais is not seeking re-election.

She said her experience working with educators qualifies her for the position. Spearman is executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators and, previously, worked as a teacher, assistant principal, state House representative and deputy education superintendent under Democratic state schools chief Inez Tenenbaum.

Spearman first was elected to the state House, representing Saluda County, in 1992 as a Democrat. In 1995, she switched parties, saying she felt more aligned to what she saw as a changing Republican Party. After resigning from the House in 1998, Spearman joined Tenenbaum as the state Education Department’s governmental liaison.

“No other candidate has the in-depth experience that I have, or the relationships that I have,” Spearman said. “I know I’m prepared to do this job.”

Other Republican candidates running are Sally Atwater, a former Colleton County teacher and widow of GOP operative Lee Atwater; Gary Burgess, Anderson County Board of Education member; Meka Childs of Columbia, former S.C. Education Department deputy superintendent; Amy Cofield, a Lexington attorney; Sheri Few, a Lugoff Republican activist; Don Jordan of Columbia, a University of South Carolina professor; and Elizabeth Moffly, a Charleston County School Board member.

State Rep. Mike Anthony, a retired coach and teacher from Union, and Montrio Belton, a former principal and teacher from Fort Mill, are running as Democrats.

Reach Self at (803) 771-8658.

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