Politics & Government

May 17, 2014

Superintendent of Education - The candidates at a glance

A look at the candidates, their backgrounds and issues of interest.


Sally Atwater, 63, of Charleston

Special-needs teacher, former executive director of President George W. Bush’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities; also, worked in the U.S. Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan Ensure school and bus safety Give pay raises to teachers Emphasize teaching of math, science and networking skills

Gary Burgess, 56, of Anderson

Anderson County Board of Education member, worked under Superintendent Mick Zais, former principal and former teacher Make sure teachers have rank and power in the classroom that children and parents respect Give parents a choice in the schools they want to educate their child Look at all the pots of money to make sure the money is getting to the classroom

Meka Childs, 36, of West Columbia

Former deputy superintendent under Superintendent Mick Zais, former education adviser to Gov. Mark Sanford and former teacher Supports individualized education Stop federal meddling in S.C. education Recruit and retain quality teachers

Amy Cofield, 51, of Lexington

Attorney, former teacher and anti-Common Core activist Ensure fair and balanced teacher evaluations Find a way to keep and reward good teachers, and remove bad ones Wants reading coaches to help students in small groups or individually

Sheri Few, 52, of Lugoff

Head of nonprofit S.C. Parents Involved in Education, anti-Common Core activist and advocate of abstinence-only sex education Return to classical education instead of career-based learning Support parents sending children to private schools through vouchers and tax credits Review S.C. textbooks for “falsehoods and bias”

Don Jordan, 71, of Columbia

Math professor at University of South Carolina Advocates a teacher-evaluation system approved by teachers and districts Wants a teacher pay raise Better prepare students for science, technology, engineering and math fields

Elizabeth Moffly, 53, of Awendaw

Charleston County School Board and PTA member, former three-time state superintendent candidate and Republican activist Create college prep and vocational routes to a high school diploma. Require only 19 credits to receive a high school diploma, based on the Commission of Higher Education’s recommendation for college admission standards Adopt a 10-point grading scale, meaning a grade of 90 to 100, for example, would be an “A”

Molly Spearman, 60, of Saluda

Executive director of S.C. Association of School Administrators, former state representative and deputy superintendent of education Update the education system to meet the demands of an information- and technology-based economy Support Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to create county career centers Rigorously recruit and train quality teachers


Montrio Belton, 40, of Fort Mill

Former teacher, coach, high school assistant principal, middle school principal and former director of school transformation for the state Department of Education Address persistently failing schools by state intervention Assess student growth from the beginning to the end of the school year Streamline education funding sources

Sheila Gallagher, 61, of Florence

Former teacher, past president of the S.C. Education Association and former Florence County Democratic Party chairwoman Give teachers a significant pay raise Engage communities in schools Put legalizing marijuana to a vote and, if voters decide to legalize it, use revenue to help pay for schools

Jerry Govan, 56, of Orangeburg

State representative for more than 20 years, pursuing education specialist’s degree at S.C. State University, has experience in adult education Look at equitable distribution of tax revenues in funding education Define a cohesive vision with consistency in education standards and assessment Involve communities in schools

Tom Thompson, 64, of Forest Acres

Former high school principal in Winnsboro, former educational leadership professor at the University of South Carolina, former S.C. State University dean of graduate studies Fully fund the base student cost, which is set to be $2,120 next school year but should be $2,742, according to the Board of Economic Advisors Address the academic achievement gap among students between poor and wealthy, and black and white students Ensure safety and security in schools, including addressing bullying.

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