Meet the Candidate: Dr. Gary L. Burgess (SC)

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11 mins read

Dr. Gary L. Burgess – South Carolina – State Superintendent of Education

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

In the race for SC Superintendent of Education, I am the only candidate certified as a teacher and district superintendent. I have served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. I currently am an elected official serving on the Anderson County Board of Education in South Carolina.

I am a fighter who fights strategically for the underdog. I believe in fair play, the Golden Rule, and I am willing to give my all for it.

I am uniquely qualified to be the next superintendent of education for the state of South Carolina.

Why are you running?

I am running to take public education back, back from the extreme left and the extreme right. It is my profound belief that all children are our children, and that all children must be provided with and equipped with an education that will allow her to excel and thrive in this world regardless of whether she chooses to be an astronaut or an electrician. We must equip every child. We must teach every child to read, so they can read to learn. We must equip every child to write, so they can write to learn. There is an African proverb that says, “the hunter will always be glorified until the lion learns to write.” Every child must master the basics of mathematics.

We must teach every child, through elementary school, in South Carolina as though they are going to attend college, allowing them to decide in middle school and high school their own path- be that path to work, starting their own business, technical school or a four-year college. They can choose not because the public school system crippled them, but because the public school system equipped them.

South Carolina can do better, and we must do better in educating our children. We must not settle for minimally adequate which leads to us being at the bottom of the academic rung of the education ladder and one of the least educated states in America.

As South Carolinians we must come together for the sake of our children. Our children are our present. They will embark into a future that we will never see, carrying our dreams and our hopes. We must expect excellence and extract excellence from all our children-red, yellow, black, and white. We must push them; we must pull them and instill in them a spirit of excellence.

How do we do this- I have met exceptional teachers all over this state in my years as an educator. I envision implementing a framework that I call ACE- Academic Excellence, allowing teachers to do their jobs without fear; Community Local Control, allowing citizens through their local school boards to set policy to efficiently and effectively operate schools with the maximize impact to benefit teaching and learning, keeping the heavy hand of the South Carolina Department of Education from interfering, but to act as a resource for local school districts; Educator Teacher Pride- teacher pay must reflect their membership in the greatest profession in the world. ACE=Academic Excellence, Community Local Control, Educator Teacher Pride.

I will advocate for teachers to be in control of their classrooms. I will advocate for policies and procedures to get rid of the meaningless, senseless testing that occurs in our public schools. The state and federal government must let our teachers go- let the teachers teach!

I will promote the teaching of history, the most accurate telling of our family’s story, the American story. I am a proud South Carolinian and I want our story to be told from the various perspectives of the members of our family. Indeed, we are family. I remind my northern cousins, I am American by birth, but Southern by the grace of GOD.

I make this pledge, not to ask for a new tax increase for public education until a comprehensive forensic financial audit is conducted to determine if money spent is having the greatest impact in the classroom and that our teaches are being paid well.

My experience as a product of South Carolina’s public education system-a student, a classroom teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, an assistant superintendent, a superintendent of schools and as an elected board member has uniquely qualified me to be the next superintendent of education for the state of South Carolina.

It is my aim and the goal of this campaign to build a multiethnic, multiracial, cross-generational, social-economic and faith coalition to take back public education from those on the extreme right and on the extreme left. It is my aim and the goal of this campaign team to bring South Carolina together around educating our children. We must put aside our biases and mistrust for the sake of our children. We must work together to move South Carolina from the lowest of the rungs on the academic ladder nationally, we must move South Carolina forward to having one of the most educated populations in the United States.

I run in sound spirit, mind, and body with the aspiration of my ancestors- African, European, Hispanic and Native American to see that all children, because they all are our children, are well educated. Education is my central focus. I am running for the children of South Carolina, as a South Carolinian, on the democratic ticket to become the next superintendent of education of South Carolina.

As I told a dear friend who worked with me in turning a school around, we might be on a different ticket, but we are indeed on the same platform- standing for our children, and I expect your vote and your donation.

We know what time it is- it is time for us to come together, it is time for us to stand together, it is time for us to move forward together in educating our children.

I end with this- I am running as a father, as a person whose faith and life experiences has uniquely qualified him to be the next South Carolina Superintendent of Education. I am not running as a Black candidate, I am not running as male candidate, I am not running as a candidate from the upstate, I am running as a South Carolinian. I am not running for this seat as a consolation prize. I am a strategic fighter. I will fight for the children, parents, taxpayer, and school personnel.

South Carolina has prepared me to be the next state superintendent of education. South Carolina has prepared me to launch our most precious presents, our children, into the future in building a more perfect union.

What are the 3 biggest issues facing your community?

In public education: 1. The extremes- left and right, 2. Teacher pay, 3. Parents and teachers not working as allies to educate the children.

How do you propose to solve those problems?

It is my aim and the goal of this campaign to build a multiethnic, multiracial, cross-generational, social-economic and faith coalition to take back public education from those on the extreme right and on the extreme left. It is my aim and the goal of this campaign team to bring South Carolina together around educating our children. We must put aside our biases and mistrust for the sake of our children. We must work together to move South Carolina from the lowest of the rungs on the academic ladder nationally, we must move South Carolina forward to having one of the most educated populations in the United States.

What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?

We must follow the science to the extent possible and practical.

What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?

Firearm safety classes and common-sense legislation regarding gun ownership.

How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?

It would benefit all of the citizens- fairness overflows to all citizens in a community and the practice of fairness makes us safer.

How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?

Support the law and educate.

What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?

Speak up for motor voter registration and online voting. If we can secure financial transactions, we can secure the vote.

Personal Take

Dare to educate- All the children are our children!!!

“Posts by or about political candidates do not imply endorsement. All posts are created by answers from our Meet the Candidates survey.”


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