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ELECTION 2014: USC professor enters GOP fray for state schools chief

02/20/2014 2:35 PM

02/20/2014 3:40 PM

A University of South Carolina professor has entered the race for state schools chief.

Don Jordan, 70, of Columbia is seeking the GOP nomination for state Superintendent of Education. Jordan is a professor of mathematics, and science and mathematics education at USC.

He is the founder and executive director of a science academy that focuses on increasing the number of students, especially females and minorities, who enter science professions.

He also is coordinator and founder of a program to certify teachers in each of the state's school districts as a metrication specialist.

The program is done in coordination with the S.C. Academy of Science and the U.S. Department of Commerce and has gone national as a pilot program that has certified more than 300 school administrators and teachers as of October.

In a news release, Jordan said he supports teacher pay raises and teacher evaluations that do not include giving teachers letter grades.

He also supports providing teachers with incentives to teach in poorer school districts. Jordan said he supports establishing a statewide reading program to get students reading on grade level, but he opposes requiring struggling students to repeat a grade.

He also supports 4-year-old kindergarten statewide.

On Common Core, Jordan said the standards "could become an incentive-based mandate from the federal government in order to receive funding," and for that reason, he sees the standards as disregarding states' autonomy.

But, he said, districts have spent money transitioning to the standards. He says the state should work with the state advocates and developers of the standards to "make sure the original good intent of Common Core is not lost."

Superintendent Mick Zais, R-Richland, is not running for re-election.

Other Republicans running are Sally Atwater, former school teacher and widow to GOP operative Lee Atwater; Gary Burgess, Anderson County Board of Education member; Meka Childs, former S.C. Department of Education deputy superintendent; Amy Cofield, a Lexington attorney; Sheri Few, a Lugoff Republican activist; and Elizabeth Moffly, a Charleston County School Board member.

Molly Spearman, executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators, who has said she is considering running, has not officially announced her candidacy, but has filed paperwork with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

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

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A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to Follow The Buzz @buzzatthestate. Follow Cassie @cassielcope. Follow Jamie @jamiemself. Follow Andy @andyshain.

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