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CLOWNS TO THE LEFT OF US … JOKERS TO THE RIGHT

To say the field of candidates for S.C. Superintendent of Education is underwhelming would be an understatement … which is probably why it’s a good thing this office has virtually no power.

Seriously … we haven’t seen one candidate file for this seat who is worth a damn (not that a candidate worth a damn could do much to wrestle power away from local school boards and the S.C. General Assembly).

We thought a solid candidate was going to emerge this week when Charmeka Childs – a deputy state superintendent – announced her candidacy.

Our founding editor worked with Childs in the administration of former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford (serving as the ex-governor’s education advisor), and had high hopes she would be building her campaign around aggressive market-based reforms.

Not so much, apparently. At least not according to early reports …

Childs told The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper this week that if elected she would “focus on improving the effectiveness and quality of instruction that our teachers offer,” adding “that is something that is an important part of preparing our students for what they will face when they leave high school.”

Wait … huh?

Any candidate for S.C. Superintendent who isn’t wildly embracing a universal parental choice bill as their No. 1 priority should be immediately dismissed as nothing but a status quo panderer.┬áSure there are other reforms worthy of being adopted, but next to the unrestrained power of the free market everything else is tinkering around the edges …

So if “choice” isn’t the first word out of a candidate’s mouth … don’t bother troubling yourself with the words that follow. Because they won’t matter.

South Carolina has the nation’s worst K-12 system of education, a failed government-run monopoly that falls further behind the rest of the nation with each passing year – relegating tens of thousands of children to second class status. In light of that – and the abject futility of pumping more money into this failure – our challenge to candidates is to either stand up for real reform or stop wasting our time.

The time for tinkering is long since past … only a radical reorientation to the free market can save South Carolina now.