Concerns continue to brew over Weaver’s master’s degree

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2022 at 7:38 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Republican candidate Ellen Weaver is technically not qualified to hold the state’s top education office. She needs a master’s degree, which she says she will complete by election time, but teachers around the state are baffled by the speed in which she is able to obtain the academic achievement.

Charleston County teacher Jody Stallings says getting the degree in six months defeats the purpose of having the qualification in the first place.

“It even makes you wonder about the purpose of the education that we are giving to our kids,” Stallings said. “The purpose is not just to hand them a diploma – a piece of paper that certifies them- it’s to give them an education.”

Weaver is working through a 33-credit program through Bob Jones University online. The program typically takes a year, according to their website.

“While many students choose to take one course at a time, it is possible for any student to take more classes at a time to complete it in a shorter timeframe,” university officials said in a statement.

That means Weaver will need 11 three-credit classes in about six months. She addressed this arrangement in front of a group of voters in Summerville last week.

“I am in a competency-based program where I am able to go at my own speed,” Weaver said. “I am not going to pretend that it’s easy. I am getting up every morning at 5 o’clock to do several hours of schoolwork before I start my day. I go home at night and do more schoolwork and I’m doing it all over the weekend too.”

Marissa Robbins is a certified teacher from Fort Mill. She is not currently teaching but calls Weaver’s arrangement a loops not afforded to most teachers.

“As a mother and a certified teacher in South Carolina, I have not gotten my master’s because of the time commitment,” Robbins said. “So it is a personal offense to me because I probably have more time than she does – she’s running a campaign.”

Robbins sent a letter to Bob Jones University asking them about the abbreviated master’s program. She says it devalues the degree obtained by students.

“At a very bare minimum they discredited their master’s program, if not their whole education department,” Robbins said. “I’m thinking about all the former students. What an insult it is to them. The financial and time investment that these students have put in to get the same degree as her, it’s an insult.”

Stallings says this goes beyond the degree.

“What’s probably more important than the master’s degree is the experience in the classroom,” Stallings said. “I think you want your generals to have some combat experience. So I hope that the requirement for the master’s degree doesn’t just become some kind of metal that get tacked on there and doesn’t really signify any meaningful experience.”

Weaver says she is on track to finish her degree in October.

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