Spearman faces challenge in election for SC education superintendent
FLORENCE, S.C. – Republican Molly Spearman faces Dr. Israel Romero in her bid to be re-elected as South Carolina’s superintendent of education in the Nov. 6 general election.
Spearman said she started her career as a music teacher. She said she taught school for 18 years and also served as an assistant principal. In 1992, she ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives. Spearman served four terms in the position. Spearman said she resigned from teaching and elected office to become the deputy superintendent for governmental relations. She became the director of the South Carolina Association for School Administrators in 2004.
Romero has a host of professional degrees. He has an LLB from San Pedro University in Honduras, an MBA from Almeda University in Boise, Idaho, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, a juris doctor degree from La Salle University, and an doctorate in educational administration from American International University in Honolulu. He also has worked as a teacher of Spanish in the Foxborough (Mass.) Public Schools, a teacher of algebra in special education in the Brockton (Mass.) Public Schools and as a professor at Bridgewater State. Romero currently works as an independent journalistic scientific researcher and writer.
The superintendent’s position is one of seven statewide elected positions created by the South Carolina Constitution. According to the Code of Laws of South Carolina, the superintendent is tasked with serving as secretary and administrative officer to the South Carolina Board of Education, generally supervising the use of state and federal school funds, organizing and administering the South Carolina Department of Education, and informing the public about the problems and needs of the public school system.
Spearman was first elected to the office in 2014 over Democrat Tom Thompson and the American Party of South Carolina’s Ed Murray. Republican Mick Zais was elected to the office in 2010. Democrats won the office in 2006 (Jim Rex), 2002 and 1998 (Inez Tenenbaum).
The superintendent receives a salary of $92,007.
Plans if elected
Spearman said her plans if re-elected are to improve student safety. She said the department had additional training for school resource officers and teachers and had revamped the discipline policies of the state. Her goal is to provide a school resource officer and a mental health officer in every school by 2022. She also said she wanted to improve training for teachers and students to recognize potential problems.
Another plan is to make sure that every student is ready for college or career at graduation. Spearman said there were areas of the state that needed to offer more for students including a stronger curriculum and more career programs. She also said she wanted to do everything to recruit and train high-quality teachers, including working on teachers’ salaries.
Spearman also said she was proud of the department’s rewriting of standards and an assessment within about four or five months. She said the department continues to work in this area.
Romero’s plans if elected include the installation of metal detectors at the main entrance of each school building in the state, working with the General Assembly to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, implement programs for disadvantaged students including students with learning disabilities and those from low-income homes, and working to raise students’ performance on the state examination while keeping the state’s levels on the SAT.
He also said he would like to create more teacher-training programs and to encourage teachers to enter master’s degree programs. He also would like to promote a teacher’s union in South Carolina and have branches in each school district.
Romero also provided the Morning News a copy of his educational philosophy. His philosophy is that an educator must be caring and support the academic development of all students, be responsible and skilled to create a curriculum to educate students, and be fair to assess the amount of student learning from the curriculum.