COLUMBIA — Republican activist Sheri Few announced Friday that she’s running for South Carolina schools superintendent on a platform of blocking education standards known as Common Core.
Few, 61, said that as schools chief she would “use every resource available at my disposal to make sure we uproot Common Core.”
“I will hire – I’ll contract with lawyers that know the issues and find ways that we can get our state out of this federal overreach,” she said, adding later that she’d use attorneys within the agency.
Opponents of Common Core call it a nationalization of public education. But Common Core is not federal. The initiative was led by governors and superintendents, through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Obama administration encouraged states to sign on through scoring in its Race to the Top grant competition.
Few, the state campaign director for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential bid, said she’ll fight to ensure education decisions are made locally.
Common Core, adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia, outlines what skills students in kindergarten through 12th grade should learn,. South Carolina’s Board of Education adopted the math and reading standards in July 2010, after approval by the Education Oversight Committee, which is made up of business leaders, educators and legislators.
Full implementation, including standardized testing on the new standards, is set for the upcoming school year. Educators say it will allow a true measure of how South Carolina students perform compared with other states, and that students who move from one state to another won’t be playing catch-up.
Few said states should maintain the ability to set their own standards.
Legislation to block implementation of Common Core in South Carolina died in a Senate committee in 2012. Bills introduced last year in the House and Senate have gone nowhere.
“If we can’t do it through the Legislature, and I’m elected, I will work tirelessly until we’re able to remove it,” Few said.
Few is president of Parents Involved in Education, a nonprofit she founded in 2000 that trains teachers in abstinence-only education. Before that, she was a stay-at-home mom of three who graduated from public schools, now ages 22, 25 and 26.
Few, of Lugoff, ran unsuccessfully in 2006, 2008 and 2010 for a seat in the South Carolina House representing a suburban Columbia district, in campaigns that involved her support for legislation using tax credits to help parents afford private tuition. The idea has divided the GOP since former Gov. Mark Sanford first introduced it in 2004. Well-funded by the effort’s supporters, her 2006 campaign targeted a GOP incumbent who had voted against the idea. He won but didn’t seek re-election in 2008.
After a decade of fighting, the Legislature last year passed its first school-choice bill, limited to special-needs students. Few said that, as superintendent, she would push to expand school choice.
She is the second Republican to officially jump into the superintendent’s race after GOP incumbent Mick Zais announced last month he wouldn’t seek re-election. State Rep. Andy Patrick of Hilton Head Island, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former U.S. Secret Service agent, announced his bid Wednesday.
Gary Burgess Sr. of Pendleton, a former high school principal and college professor, says he’ll announce his bid for the Republican nomination on Martin Luther King Day.
Democrats vying for the job are state Rep. Mike Anthony of Union, a retired teacher and coach, and Montrio Belton of Fort Mill, a former principal who worked as Zais’ director of school transformation.