On November 6th you will have an opportunity to improve the lives of the children of our state by voting YES on Amendment 1. A "Yes" vote makes the Department of Education a cabinet level agency led by a professional Superintendent of Education, not a politician. While there are many reasons to support this change, I will concentrate on just four.
- Raises the Department of Education to a cabinet level agency
We have amazing teachers working tirelessly across this state to improve educational opportunities for our children. Still, we are failing too many of our next generation. YES on Amendment 1 will elevate the importance of education to the level it deserves. Education will be front and center, at all times, to the chief executive of South Carolina, forcing that governor to make education a real priority and not simply granting lip service to an agency he/she has no real responsibility.
- Ensures professional and qualified superintendents
While the genius of our representative republic is self governance, we must also recognize some very specific roles in government should be performed by experts in their field. Currently the only requirements for becoming Superintendent of Education are to be 18 years of age, registered to vote, and elected. YES on Amendment 1 will result in future superintendents maintaining both educational and experiential requirements. Expanding the qualified and capable pool of candidates to those with proven skills and expertise allows for results through innovation and is something everyone concerned with advancing education and opportunities for students should welcome.
- Full, clear, and enforceable accountability in education
Every candidate for Governor campaigns on improving our failing education system. Yet, the chief executive, and highest elected officer in our state, has no direct control or influence on our schools. YES on Amendment 1 will elevate and demystify education policy allowing us to champion success while making it possible to immediately remove those responsible for failure well before the next election if necessary. Waiting four years to replace an elected official is a lifetime for a student.
- Defragmentation of education policy
Alignment of vision is crucial to the success of any organization. In South Carolina the Legislative, Executive, and in several instances, the Judicial branches of government, in addition to the Superintendent of Education, often have differing views of how education policy is advanced. Too often the result is gridlock. In those instances poor performance continues and students suffer. Our students deserve better, as do the teachers and administrators that are left to make the best of poor policy. YES on Amendment 1 will allow for clear alignment of policy and expedited implementation of badly needed change.
For the past several years, the South Carolina General Assembly has made efforts to improve the accountability and effectiveness of government. The elevation of Department of Education to a cabinet level agency furthers this goal and lets the world know we are committed to education.
I hope you will join me in this next step of transforming South Carolina's education system to a world class system for students, parents, and educators by voting YES on Amendment 1.
Sean M. Bennett, Senator
Dorchester, Charleston, & Berkeley Counties
Senator Bennett serves on the Senate Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee.
Cindi Ross Scoppe - 10 reasons to vote for an appointed SC superintendent of education
Palmetto Promise - Why We're Voting Yes on Amendment 1
The State (Columbia) - Democrat, GOP school chiefs agree: Stop electing SC’s education superintendent
Post and Courier (Charleston) - Let governor appoint education superintendent
Greenville News (Greenville) - Opinion: Why SC needs an appointed state education superintendent