Next month, State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, plans to pre-file legislation that would change South Carolina’s top education official from an elected office to one instead appointed by the governor.
Campsen told South Carolina Radio Network that the current system gives the governor very little sway over education policy. “There is very little you can do, because the authority and therefore the accountability is divided up,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.
Gov. Nikki Haley and current Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman support the change to a Cabinet-level appointment. Both signed a letter submitted to legislators earlier this month asking them to consider asking voters to change the state constitution.
“You have gubernatorial candidates who may be able to address issues of education on the campaign trail, but they have very little power to make any of it happen,” Campsen said.
The legislation would ask voters in a 2018 refendum if they want to move the education superintendent to an appointment position. If voters approve the change, it would not take effect until 2023 so the candidate who won the next election in two years would still be able to serve out their term.
South Carolina’s constitution separates the positions, leaving the state as one of only 13 in the country with an elected education superintendent.