Amy Cofield -- a Lexington attorney, former public school teacher and friend to Gov. Nikki Haley -- announced Tuesday that she will seek the Republican nomination for the state's next schools chief.
“As an advocate for conservative policies that put parents in charge of their children’s education, I am excited to enter this race,” Cofield said in a news release announcing her bid for state Superintendent of Education.
"As a former public school teacher, I know our teachers must have the freedom to do what they were trained to do – educate our youth," she added.
She was not available for interviews, her spokesman said.
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The campaign release touts Cofield's opposition to Common Core education standards, which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Haley also opposes the state standards.
Common Core standards were developed by associations representing state governors and schools' chiefs, and voluntarily adopted by most states. But critics say they came from the federal government, a belief that stems in part from the U.S. Department of Education's position that the standards prepare students for careers and college.
Cofield, in the release, expresses that concern about the federal government reaching into the classroom: "Our classrooms must be free from Washington politicians and bureaucrats, with final curriculum and policy determined at the local level. And, our parents must be able to choose which environment is best suited for their children’s education."
Haley did not endorse Cofield, though Cofield's campaign website includes a photo of the two of them together with Cofield's husband.
"Gov. Haley has always said that it's a thing when good people get involved in their government, but she is staying out of the superintendent's race, just as she is staying out of other statewide races," her campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey said.
Amy Cofield is the second Haley ally running for statewide election this year.
Charleston developer Pat McKinney, who was part of the governor's transition team and whom Haley appointed to the state ports authority, is running for lieutenant governor.
Cofield is the sister of Tommy Cofield, a Lexington attorney and Haley's appointee on the University of South Carolina's board of trustees. Cofield replaced Lake City financier Darla Moore, the school's largest benefactor in a move that stirred controversy on and off campus.
The Cofields work together at the Cofield Law Firm, which gave $2,000 to Haley's re-election campaign.
Tommy Cofield has contributed $6,500 to the governor's 2010 and 2014 campaigns, state records show. Amy Cofield gave Haley $6,500 in those races.
State Sen. Katrina Shealy, a Lexington Republican and another Haley friend, endorsed Cofield in the race, calling her "a proven leader who has fought for our conservative values, for parents, and for our kids. We need her as Superintendent of Education.”
Cofield joins a growing field of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.
Conservative activist and Common Core opponent Sheri Few of Lugoff, Anderson board of education member Gary Burgess, Charleston County school board member Elizabeth Moffly and Sally Atwater, widow of GOP activist Lee Atwater also have said they plan to run for the seat.
Two Democrats have announced bids for their party's nomination: state Rep. Mike Anthony of Union and ex-state Department of Education employee Montrio Belton of Fort MIll, both former public school educators.