COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Wednesday morning, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced she will not be seeking a third-term.

She released a statement and said she would serve out the rest of her term ending in January 2023. She said she is looking forward to spending time with her family.

“A strong public education system that offers every student, no matter where they live, the opportunity to be prepared for a successful and productive life is key to the future of our state, nation, and world. I have been honored to serve and devote my life to this important work first as a teacher and principal, then as a legislator, senior staff member at the Department, an education association leader, and finally as State Superintendent of Education.

When I took office in 2015, South Carolina was using nationalized Common Core State Standards, had one of the lowest teacher pay rates in the country, had a dangerous, antiquated school bus fleet, our small, rural school districts were operating inefficiently, and the needs of our state’s workforce were not being met.

Despite these challenges, we have made tremendous progress. We brought together South Carolina’s brightest educators, parents, and business leaders to write our own South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards. We pushed for additional funding for teacher salaries – raising starting pay nearly twenty percent and across the board salaries ten. We put a laser focus on modernizing our school bus fleet through innovative purchasing and technological advances giving us one of the most efficient fleets in the nation. We retooled our system of school improvement ensuring that each struggling school and district had boots on the ground support day in and day out along with a plan of action for improvement. We helped small districts prepare for the future while expanding opportunities for students through shared services and consolidation. I am fortunate to have played a role in these changes that I feel have put our students, parents, educators, and state in a position that poises us to meet the challenges that lie ahead in the face of a global pandemic.

My career in public service would not have happened without the lessons taught by my parents, and the love and support of my family, neighbors and friends. I am humbled that a little girl from a dairy farm in Saluda County has had the chance to serve her community and state for over forty years. My husband – Bill, children – Mitchell, Katie and Lee, and grandchildren – Molly Brooke and Marilyn Ann now deserve my full attention.

I will not seek re-election.  Until the end of my term in January 2023, I will continue to work diligently to help us rise out of the pandemic stronger than before while advocating for the needs of our students, educators, and families.”

May God continue to bless the great state of South Carolina.”

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman

The Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA) and South Carolina Education Association (SCEA) both shared their thoughts on the Superintendent Spearman’s decision. PSTA Director of Government Affairs Patrick Kelly said, “She’s been able to shepherd the state through everything from reforming the bus fleet, to raising starting teacher salaries, to navigating the state through a shift in federal accountability and of course trying to find the right path leading our school through a once in a generation pandemic.”

SCEA President Sherry East said, “Superintendent Spearman has worked with The SCEA to give educators a seat at the table on issues like testing, evaluations, and school discipline.”

East and Kelly both said they would like to see someone with a teaching background elected in 2022. East said, “The next State Superintendent of Education must understand and be ready to tackle the complex issues of education in our state and view issues in a children-first lens, understanding that working conditions for school staff are the learning conditions for South Carolina students.”

Candidates can begin filing to run for state Superintendent of Education next March.