- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Voters will decide Tuesday whether Sally Atwater or Molly Spearman will be the Republican choice to be South Carolina’s next education superintendent:

Sally Atwater

Age: 63

Residence: Charleston, native of Union.

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education, Winthrop University

Career: Taught 9 1/2 years at schools in Rock Hill, Gilbert and Columbia before moving to Washington in 1982, where she worked under the director of special education programs at the U.S. Department of Education during Ronald Reagan’s administration. Later appointed to the agency’s National Advisory Board on International Education Programs. In 1991, she was appointed to the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. In 2001, she was appointed director of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. In 2010, she was appointed to the staff of the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee. She returned to South Carolina and the classroom in 2012. She taught special education classes in Walterboro until February.

Political experience: Widow of legendary GOP strategist Lee Atwater, who engineered wins for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, and was then promoted to the chairmanship of the Republican Party. He died in 1991. This is her first run for elected office.

Molly Spearman

Age: 60

Residence: Saluda

Education: Bachelor’s in music education, Lander University; master’s of education supervision, George Washington University; education specialist degree, University of South Carolina

Career: 18 years as a music teacher, two years as an assistant elementary school principal. She resigned her House seat in February 1999 to be the state Education Department’s legislative liaison. She remained deputy superintendent of government relations for six years and became Inez Tenanbaum’s chief of staff for one year. Director of the state Association of School Administrators for the last decade.

Political experience: First elected to the South Carolina House in 1992 and re-elected in 1994, 1996 and 1998. She switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 1995 and was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the budget, in 1997.

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