Last updated: February 06. 2014 8:50AM - 738 Views

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COLUMBIA —A former governor who emphasized support for public education during his term in office, has endorsed Rep. Mike Anthony for State Superintendent of Education.

A statement released Tuesday by the Anthony campaign announced that former gov. Jim Hodges had endorsed Anthony’s candidacy. In announcing his endorsement, Hodges cited Anthony’s long record of service in public education.

“Mike Anthony has spent his life dedicated to public schools — as a classroom teacher and state champion football coach. He’s the kind of person our public schools need — a proven leader with a track record of success in our schools. I have every reason to believe he will be that strong advocate for kids, parents and teachers we desperately need.”

Hodges served as governor from 1999-2003, and the announcement cites some of the achievements of his administration in the area of education including bringing the Education Lottery to South Carolina, securing over $1 billion for school construction without raising taxes, and launching the ‘First Steps to School Readiness’ program.

Anthony said he was very grateful for Hodges’ endorsement.

“Governor Hodges was truly an ‘education governor,’” Anthony said. ”He made public education his highest priority and as a result our schools made great strides during his tenure. His work to establish the education lottery and ‘First Steps’ program have done wonders for South Carolina public schools. I’m truly honored that Governor Hodges has decided to support my candidacy.”

Anthony, who has represented District 42 in the S.C. House of Representatives for six terms, announced in August that he would seek the Democratic nomination for State Superintendent of Education. During six of his 12 years in the House, Anthony was a member of the House Education Committee. He is currently a member of the House Rules and Ways and Means committees.

Prior to his election to the District 42 seat, Anthony spent more than 30 years as a public school teacher. In addition to being a teacher, Anthony coached football at his alma mater, Union High School, for more than 20 years.

As head football coach, Anthony led the Yellow Jackets to state championships in 1999, 2000, and 2002.

In announcing his candidacy for State Superintendent of Education, Anthony called for an end to partisanship in education and for a renewed focus on and support of teachers doing the job of educating children. Citing his experience as both a teacher and a football coach, Anthony said if elected the team he would assemble the State Superintendent’s Office would include both teachers and representatives of the business world.

Anthony said that given how crucial education is to the future of South Carolina and the nation it is is important that the teaching profession regain the respect it had when he began his career as an educator. He also said that education is key to economic success, pointing out that there are 11,000 jobs in the Upstate that are not being filled because the region doesn’t have a large enough workforce of persons possessing the skills to fill those jobs. If elected, Anthony said he would work to ensure that the educational system would provide the training needed to provide students with the skills needed to fill those high-paying jobs.

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