At the same time SC voters will be picking the state’s superintendent of education this November, they will decide if they should continue to elect the state’s top education official.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would change the way the state’s school system is overseen, making the superintendent of education appointed by the governor, not elected by voters.
The state’s constitutional ballot commission approved the language for that question, which voters will answer, Thursday.
Currently, voters directly elect the head of the state’s Education Department every four years. Former state Rep. Molly Spearman, a Republican, was elected to oversee S.C. schools in 2014 and is running for a second, four-year term this fall against Democrat Israel Romero.
But at the same time, voters will decide if they would rather have the governor appoint the schools superintendent, subject to qualifications for the job to be approved by the Legislature. That change would give the governor’s office more control over education policy, and allow voters to directly judge the state’s chief executive based on how the state’s schools are performed.
Republicans generally have favored the idea. However, some Democrats oppose it.
State schools superintendent was the last statewide post held by a Democrat. Since 2011, however, the jobs — like every other statewide post in South Carolina — has been held by a Republican.
The move also would remove one of eight statewide constitutional officers that voters now vote on every four years, reducing a crowded ballot that now includes the state treasurer, comptroller general and commissioner of agriculture.
Spearman, the current superintendent, has said she’s in favor of the change, arguing it would allow the governor and superintendent to share a common vision for the state’s education system and allow educators who wouldn’t run for public office to hold the post.
The superintendent elected this year will serve until January 2023. The governor will appoint a replacement if the post comes open before then.
Until 2014, S.C. voters elected the adjutant general to head the state’s National Guard. Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston was elected to the post that year. However, thanks to a similar amendment adopted that year, the governor will decide on the next adjutant general when Livingston’s term expires next January.
What you will be voting on
Amendment 1: Must Section 7, Article VI of the Constitution of this state, relating to state constitutional officers, be amended so as to provide that beginning in January 2023, or upon a vacancy in the office of superintendent of education after the date of the ratification of the provisions of this paragraph, whichever occurs first, the superintendent of education must be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate; to provide that the appointed superintendent of education shall serve at the pleasure of the governor; and to require the General Assembly to provide by law for the duties, compensation, and qualifications for the office?
Explanation: A ‘Yes’ vote will require the superintendent of education be appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate. A ‘No’ vote maintains the current method of electing a superintendent of education.