It’s no surprise that Mick Zais, the soon-to-be-retired superintendent of education, is supporting one of his lieutenants in the campaign to replace him. He wants to continue the current regime. 

What is surprising and sad is that he would devote most of his column – “GOP should continue to support school choice – in the Aiken Standard on May 29 to attacking me – and misleading your readers on the facts. Zais’ ill-informed diatribe proves just how badly we need new leadership at the S.C. Department of Education. 

The time has come to stop the bickering, the name calling and finger-pointing that has divided us and driven false wedges between good people. That’s why I decided to offer as a Republican candidate for state superintendent of education. 

I have dedicated more than 35 years to education in South Carolina, most of those years as a classroom teacher. I worked with Gov. Nikki Haley to develop her education plan, which I enthusiastically support.

I have always supported school choice proposals that are accountable to the taxpayers. I supported tax-credits for special-needs students to attend private schools that could better meet their needs. 

My goal is to keep Washington out of our schools and develop our own high standard here at home where parents, teachers and school principals work hand-in-hand to give our children the best education in the nation. That’s what they deserve, and that’s what our business leaders expect.   

Haley has brought tens of thousands of jobs to South Carolina; yet, business leaders tell us they can’t find the qualified graduates they need in-state to fill the best paying jobs.  

Tragically, we have to spend $20 million a year to remediate high school graduates because we have failed to prepare them properly. That fact alone cries out for new leadership at the State Department of Education.  

From day one, my campaign has been about better schools that prepare students for a brighter future. As to the allegations that have been made that I am somehow a secret Democrat, here are the facts:

When David Wilkins, the first Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, came to me and said: “Molly, you vote Republican more often then you vote with them, why don’t you just join us?”  I thought about it and that’s exactly what I did. I joined the first Republican legislature since Reconstruction. I am a proud conservative Republican. Allegations have been made that I have changed my positions on issues such as home schooling. Not true. I have always supported home schooling, with a plan that makes certain home schooling parents meet minimum standards, so that every child is protected from harm and can read, write and do simple math. Every home school parent I know wants the best for his or her child, and I agree.

Am I willing to work across party lines to get positive things done? Yes. In our hearts, we all want the best for our children. With the right leadership, I believe we can bring people together, inspire change and make our public education system better than ever.  

Now is the time for us to unite and look for innovative ways to transform education, creating new and better choices for parents and students.  There are so many ways: charter schools, private schools, Montessori, homeschooling, and career centers – all exciting choices that we should expand, develop and encourage.

That spirit of innovation and unity is the driving force behind my campaign for state superintendent of education. I will leave the bickering and name-calling to others.

Molly Spearman is seeking the Republican nomination in the race to be South Carolina’s superintendent of education.