SC Teachers Should Consider Voting in the Republican Primary
There is a lot at stake right now in the South Carolina education system. Right now, the legislature is pushing through a disastrous voucher bill as well as an anti-critical race theory bill, which would just cause more censorship and less academic freedom. The reality is there is a portion of the SC GOP that cares little for a vibrant public education. In fact, many want to undermine it at any term that they can.
In light of that, I understand why many teachers are prone to vote for the Democratic candidates and want to participate in the Democratic primary this summer. In terms of my own values on education, someone like SC for Ed’s Lisa Ellis who is running for the Democratic candidacy for Superintendant of Education is more in line with my values. However, I would suggest another option. Since South Carolina has open primaries, it might be good to consider voting in the Republican Primary, particularly to vote for Kathy Maness for the Superintendant position. Manness is certainly more conservative than many teachers, but she still believes in public education and appears to be at least somewhat resistant to the extremism coming from the fringe of her party and from some of the other GOP candidates who make the current Superintendant of Education, Molly Spearman, look moderate in comparison.
I understand there will be pushback to support Manness, and I support people voting for the candidate they like the best. However, the reality is that in 2022, no Democrat is going to win a state-wide election. The sad part is that most voters do not even know who the superintendent candidates are when they go in and vote. They just vote R or D down the ticket. There are few high-stakes races in the Democratic primary. The most high-profile race is for governor with Mia Mcleod and Joe Cunningham, both of whom would be great candidates (and I personally would vote for either one against McMaster). However, if we are being realists, neither has a legitimate chance of winning. If James Smith could not win in 2018 in the midst of a blue wave, it will not happen in 2022 when the momentum has swung to the GOP.
Maness has served as president of the Palmetto State Teachers’ Association, which is markedly more conservative than the South Carolina Education Association, which I am a part of, but it is at least standing for public education and more autonomy and rights for teachers. For some of the other Republican candidates, teachers are to be mistrusted and accused of indoctrinating students, and public education is what they want to weaken or even dissolve through privatization. I am sure I will disagree with Maness on many issues. She is not an undercover progressive running as a Republican. She is just a moderate Republican; something that used to be more common. However, we need someone like her in the statehouse to ensure that the far-right does not completely wreck the education system in our state. For that to occur, it might mean that teachers should consider voting in the Republican primary regardless of who they ultimately vote for in November.