Making Democracy Work

SC 2018 Constitutional Amendment Question

The following Constitutional Amendment Question will appear on ballots in the November 6, 2018, General Election.

Elect or Appoint the SC Superintendent of Education?

QUESTION: Must Section 7, Article VI of the Constitution of this State, relating to state constitutional officers, be amended so as to provide that beginning in January 2023, or upon a vacancy in the office of Superintendent of Education after the date of the ratification of the provisions of this paragraph, whichever occurs first, the Superintendent of Education must be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate; to provide that the appointed Superintendent of Education shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor; and to require the General Assembly to provide by law for the duties, compensation, and qualifications for the office?

Yes--A 'Yes' vote will require the Superintendent of Education be appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate.

No--A 'No' vote maintains the current method of electing a Superintendent of Education.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS' EXPLANATION OF THE VOTE

In November, South Carolina voters will consider a constitutional amendment to change the S.C. Superintendent of Education position from a statewide elected office to an appointment made by the Governor with the consent of the state Senate.

ARGUMENTS THAT SUPPORT A "YES" VOTE INCLUDE:

  • South Carolina is one of only eight states in which state superintendents are chosen in statewide partisan elections.

  • In South Carolina, many statewide offices (seven) are elected by statewide partisan vote. A recent change was the Adjutant General, which has been removed as an elected position.

  • The seven remaining elected state positions, in addition to many important statewide commission and board members who are appointed by the General Assembly, take authority from the Governor who should be held responsible for the efficient operation of all state agencies.

  • An appointed Superintendent would increase the Governor's accountability for public education issues and strengthen the Office of the Governor in this legislatively-dominated state.

  • The expense and difficulty of running statewide partisan campaigns may discourage the best candidates from running.

ARGUMENTS THAT SUPPORT A "NO" VOTE INCLUDE:

  • Since the State Superintendent has direct oversight of all the state's public schools, an elected Superintendent makes her/him directly accountable to voters regarding K-12 education issues.

  • Since the largest portion of the state budget goes to education, as well as millions of dollars in federal grant money, an elected state superintendent can devote full attention to education issues without the distraction or competition of other state funding issues.

  • Gubernatorial appointment would not guarantee the person chosen would have the knowledge, experience or philosophy to successfully manage school issues.

  • Special interest lobbying could influence gubernatorial appointment of a superintendent.

  • As education becomes more complex and specialized, statewide campaigns require candidates to travel throughout the state, giving voters the opportunity to meet and evaluate the candidates.