WEAVER VS. ELLIS: SC state superintendent of education candidates debate ahead of Election Day

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — When residents vote in this midterm election, they will see a spot for state superintendent of education.

With state superintendent Molly Spearman outgoing, the position will either go to Republican Ellen Weaver or Democrat Lisa Ellis.

The race for the state superintendent of education is the closest on the ballot according to a USC professor and political analyst.

At Wednesday night’s debate, there was a lot Ellen Weaver and Lisa Ellis disagreed about, but the number one thing they were on the same page about was raising the teacher pay in South Carolina.

“We have to really look at compensating our teachers and comparing that compensation for their professional degrees against all industries,” Ellis said.

“I would like us to see our teacher salaries raised not up to the southeastern average where we currently are, but to the national average in the next five years,” Weaver said.

The two candidates believe that in addition to salaries, working conditions are to blame for the state’s teacher shortage. 

“When we look at some of our schools across the state, some of them are 50, 70 or 100 years old,” Ellis said.

“Another thing that I’ve heard from speaking with teacher’s across this state is that discipline is a critical issue,” Weaver said.

However, they have different ideas about how to improve South Carolina’s academic scores. 

“Early literacy is absolutely critical and will be my number one academic priority as superintendent,” Weaver said.

“But nothing else is going to work until you get high quality teachers in there, let them do their job and decrease class sizes,” Ellis said.

Ellis also says that education in the Palmetto State is underfunded.

“What’s happening at the policy level at the policy level is not helping teachers and students in the classrooms,” the SC 4 Ed founder said. “When we’re talking about funding, I think it’s important for us to understand that our general assembly has underfunded our schools since 2008.”

Disagreeing with Ellis, Weaver says that enough funding goes towards education in South Carolina but that funding is in the wrong place. It’s a problem she believes she can fix.

“That’s going to actually take someone who is willing to work with the general assembly and has the relationships to get things done,” said the Bob Jones graduate. “There is so much money that is currently in our education system. I’d like to see us make efficient use of the money we have in the system before we start throwing money at problems.”

Both candidates concluded by saying that outgoing superintendent Molly Spearman did a lot of things well, however they believe much more work is to be done. 

Categories: Local News, Richland