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Education association throws support behind Lisa Ellis for state superintendent

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Lisa Ellis, the Democratic candidate for S.C. Superintendent, received an endorsement from one of South Carolina’s top education associations.

The South Carolina Education Association announced during a July 27 press conference that it’s supporting Ellis because her years working as a public school teacher make them believe she will put students’ needs first. 

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“She has valuable experience as one of us, as a fellow educator, that has stepped into the ring to do what’s right for our students and for all of our public schools,” said Sherry East, president of the association.

Ellis worked as a teacher for two decades and founded SC for Ed, a teacher advocacy organization. In June, she announced she was taking a leave of absence from her role leading the organization to focus on her bid for superintendent.

In the November general election, she will compete against Republican nominee Ellen Weaver, the head of the right-leaning think tank Palmetto Promise Institute. She will also be up against Green Party candidate Patricia Mickel, a teacher and education consultant.

Superintendent races have garnered more attention over the past few years as education issues have become increasingly partisan. Across the country, educators and parents are divided over hot-button topics like critical race theory, masking in schools, and socio-emotional learning. 

In her remarks following the endorsement, Ellis emphasized the importance of the superintendent race for education in South Carolina. She said there were two competing visions for the public education system.

“Parents and families have supported my vision because it is one focused on students rather than politics,” Ellis said.

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The superintendent race thus far has been heated. During the Republican primary, Weaver, a candidate who was backed by many federal and state legislators, faced off against Kathy Maness, head of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, who counted parents and teachers as her main supporters. 

Maness came out ahead of Weaver during the primary, but neither got enough votes to win the Republican candidacy. During a runoff, Weaver received the most support and secured the Republican nomination. 

So far Weaver has focused on a number of hot-button partisan topics such as critical race theory and anti-LGBTQ+ issues in her campaign. She has also criticized pandemic-related safety measures like masking in schools. 

The Republican candidate does not hold a master’s degree despite state law requiring one for the state superintendent position. Weaver has said she’s on track to earn a master’s from Bob Jones University by the election. 

During the press conference, Ellis also talked about properly funding education so that high quality teachers can lead classrooms across the state. She said she wants to work closely with school districts to improve working conditions for educators and student academic achievement.

As part of her platform, Ellis also wants to raise teacher and staff salaries, get more in-school mental health counselors, and keep public funds in public schools.

The election will be held on Nov. 8.

This content was originally published here.

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