State Rep. Andy Patrick of Hilton Head Island said Monday he is "exploring the idea" of a run for state superintendent of education.
Patrick, a Republican, hinted at his interest before a news conference at the Statehouse in Columbia. He held the news conference to discuss a bill he plans to file a bill Tuesday aimed at improving teacher evaluation, training and compensation. The two-term representative would face incumbent Mick Zais in a Republican primary if he decides to run in the 2014 election.
Patrick finished fifth out of 16 Republican primary candidates seeking the 1st District congressional seat in March. Former Gov. Mark Sanford won the post, vacated when Tim Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
State Rep. Mike Anthony of Union and Montrio Belton of Fort Mill have announced plans to run for the Democratic nomination for the superintendent post.
Patrick is a former Secret Service agent who runs a security firm. He currently is chairman of the S.C. House of Representatives subcommittee on K-12 education.
"I don't ever want to close a door on opportunity," Patrick said of a potential run for superintendent. "And if it's the right way for me to serve the state and the public, then I will consider it."
Patrick's proposal to overhaul evaluation of South Carolina's public-school teachers has no co-sponsors now, but that will likely change in coming weeks, he said. He said his bill will provide long-overdue support for teachers.
The bill was drafted after Patrick conducted a series of forums across the state, starting with a meeting of about 50 Beaufort County School District educators in late October. Patrick said during that forum -- as well as at events in Greenville and Columbia -- common themes emerged.
Teachers expressed the need for more frequent observations, evaluations and professional development. Just as important, they said, schools must give teachers the support and resources they need to make the changes suggested in evaluations.
Patrick said his bill is designed to recognize and reward great teachers, while providing help for struggling ones. The legislation also increases opportunities for engineers, scientists, business leaders and other professionals to enter the classroom and help students learn.
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Comprehensive Teacher Quality Bill The Comprehensive Teacher Quality Bill calls for:
- A framework for comprehensive teacher and principal evaluations, including professional development
- Salary-schedule reform that allows good teachers to earn more.
- A lengthier introduction period for new teachers to provide additional support and training
- Changes to the tenure and dismissal process