- Associated Press - Thursday, February 25, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Some lawmakers want to give South Carolina voters another chance to decide if they elect the education superintendent less than three years after they rejected the idea.

A proposal that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to decide if the state’s top education official is elected or appointed by the governor passed a House subcommittee Thursday on a 3-2 vote. All three Republicans votes yes, and the two Democrats voted no.

A similar amendment was on the November 2018 ballot, and 60% of voters decided to keep electing the superintendent.

“The people have already spoken conclusively on the issue,” said Patrick Kelly, speaking for the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

Supporters of having the governor appoint the education superintendent said it would make the position more accountable to the person the voters elect to lead the state.

South Carolina voters have agreed to no longer have the adjutant general and lieutenant governor elected over the past decade.

Current Education Superintendent Molly Spearman supported the 2018 amendment, but the respect for her work before and during the pandemic may be part of the reluctance to give the governor extra power.

Kelly said there have been elected superintendents much less skilled and qualified.

“But that’s a tradeoff we make in a democracy by trusting the will of the people with our most important choices,” Kelly said.

The proposal, sponsored by House Speaker Jay Lucas, now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee.

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