COLUMBIA — A Republican activist who has rallied against Common Core standards being adopted in South Carolina has announced she is running for state schools superintendent.
Sheri Few formally announced her candidacy at the steps of the South Carolina Department of Education building Friday.
She said she was running for schools superintendent to eliminate Common Core from the state’s public schools.
“Common Core is destroying public education,” said Few at the conference. “I will fight at every turn to prevent federal government overreach into our state’s education.”
Few is the second Republican to announce a run for the top schools position this week, making her the fifth person vying for the position. Earlier this week, Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Beaufort, announced his candidacy. Republican Mick Zais, the state’s current education superintendent, announced in December that he would not seek a second term.
Both Patrick and Few are touting their experience as parents as their reason for running. Unlike Patrick, however, Few did not completely side with Gov. Nikki Haley’s new education plan.
“Her plan for education reform was lacking removing Common Core,” Few said. “I don’t see how we can focus on literacy if we don’t get rid of Common Core.”
Few has been involved with trying to get Common Core repealed for more than a year. She is the president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, a group that is opposed to the standards.
Few also organized a rally held in November that was part of National Don’t Send Your Child to School Day, a campaign seeking to raise awareness about Common Core. Her group also helped organize “Exposing Common Core, One Rotten Apple,” another Columbia rally that took place in September.
But Few lacks experience in the classroom, something Montrio Belton — a former member of Zais’ team as director of the Office of School Transformation — noted. Belton is seeking the Democratic nomination for the position.
Belton, a former school teacher and principal, said it’s ludicrous to him that people without experience as educators are running for an office that will determine what goes on in the classroom.
“I reject this argument from some who have gotten in the race that you don’t have to be an educator to run the office of superintendent,” Belton said. “You’ve got to have some baseline knowledge.”
Belton added he is the only person in the race with local and state schools experience. Belton said the candidate with the most experience other than himself is Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union, who was a teacher and football coach for more than 30 years.
Anthony also took a jab at Patrick’s lack of experience as an educator earlier this week. Anthony, D-Union, sent a written release following Patrick’s announcement, saying South Carolina’s voters need a superintendent who doesn’t need on-the-job training.
“While I consider Andy a friend, the last thing we need as superintendent is another politician with zero experience in education,” Anthony wrote. Yet, Republican Gary Burgess, who is also vying for the seat, is also a former teacher and assistant principal, and an Anderson County school board member. Burgess ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2010 against Zais.
Burgess said he wishes to work with taxpayers and those who have called for revamping public education in the state. Like Few, Burgess is against Common Core.
“It’s really easy to blame our teachers for what’s going on in the classroom,” Burgess said. “But teaching cannot be standardized because students are not standardized.”