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Haley, Spearman call for appointed schools chief

Gov. Nikki Haley and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman have joined forces in urging lawmakers to pave the way for ending elections for the state schools chief.

Republican Spearman took office in January after winning a statewide contest in November's election.

Advocates of making the governor more accountable for state government have long wanted to end popular elections for the superintendent who runs the Department of Education, providing support and setting policies for the state's public schools.

But some lawmakers and education advocacy groups have been reluctant to end popular elections for the statewide office that Democrats have had the most success in winning.

That trend appears to be shifting with Spearman and her predecessor Mick Zais, both Republicans, winning the seat.

In a letter to House Speaker Jay Lucas and members, Haley and Spearman urged representatives to adopt a resolution on their calendar for debate that would propose a constitutional amendment to allow the governor to appoint the education superintendent.

The change "would make way for another historic restructuring effort that would give more accountability to the executive branch and move South Carolina's education system forward," they wrote.

If the General Assembly passes the resolution, S.C. voters would decide whether to adopt the constitutional amendment casting ballots in a general election.

Efforts since 2004 in the state Senate to make the schools superintendent a gubernatorial appointment have failed.

A proposal passed the House in 2011 in an 82-28 vote, but died in the Senate.

A similar proposal, awaiting consideration in the House this week, has more than 60 cosponsors.

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