SC Superintendent Race Watch: Democrat Lisa Ellis, Republican Ellen Weaver compete for position

Republican Ellen Weaver, left, will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, right, in the general election in...
Republican Ellen Weaver, left, will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, right, in the general election in November for state superintendent of education.(Live 5/File)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:41 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2022 at 8:19 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The state education superintendent race is one of the more closely watched races in South Carolina.

Democrat Lisa Ellis and Republican Ellen Weaver are competing to succeed Republican Superintendent Molly Spearman, who is not seeking re-election.

The two candidates met for the only time on the debate stage Wednesday.

Both candidates have strong opinions about how to improve the state’s department of education, but Tuesday it will be up to the voters to decide whose plan they trust the most.

Spending the last 20 years working in schools, Ellis said she has the experience needed for this role. She said her top priority is improving teacher retention rates by increasing salaries, hiring more staff and eliminating unnecessary paperwork and policies, so teachers can spend more time building lesson plans and engaging with students.

“That recruitment and retention piece is really my priority because all of the other issues people are talking about aren’t going to be solved until you have a high-quality teacher or high-quality adult in front of students that can help make things better,” Ellis said.

Ellis said if elected, her first move would be to meet with employees of the Department of Education to hear feedback from them. She said she needs to understand where we are in order to move where we want to be.

Ellen Weaver has chaired the state’s Education Oversight Committee and heads the conservative think tank, Palmetto Promise Institute.

Weaver said she has a laser focus on improving the state’s academic programs, and that phonics and vocabulary building in early grades is critical. She said she wants to eliminate unnecessary paperwork for teachers and keep decision-making as close to the student as possible.

“We have got to defend the rights of parents to make educational and medical decisions for their children, and just make sure they are thoroughly involved in everything that goes on in that school, and so we are going to be focused on engaging parents, equipping parents with the information they need to support both their child and the teacher in the classroom,” Weaver said.

Weaver said her first action if elected would be to revisit and reboot the state’s early literacy program.