South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette visits Anderson and talks education reform

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette visits Anderson and talks education reform

Story by Kirk Brown published in March 4, 2019 edition of Anderson Independent Mail

This story has been updated to identify Pamela Evette as the state’s first Republican woman lieutenant governor.

Pamela Evette, South Carolina’s first Republican woman lieutenant governor, traveled to Anderson Monday to visit the AIM charity, attend a law enforcement appreciation banquet at Anderson University and tout an education reform bill during a speech to the 1st Monday Club of Anderson.

The Republican businesswoman from Travelers Rest is holding elected office for the first time. She and Gov. Henry McMaster were elected in November, the first time that the governor and lieutenant governor ran on the same political ticket.

Here are key takeaways from Evette’s visit.

Pamela Evette says SC’s education reform bill ‘is going to be good for everyone’

Speaking to the 1st Monday Club of Anderson at Master’s Wok Chinese Restaurant on North Main Street, Evette said there has has been an unprecedented level of cooperation in the Statehouse on an education reform bill. The measure is scheduled to come up for debate Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.

“This is a new dawn of a new day where the executive branch, the House, the Senate are working together,” she said. “We know that education is something we have to get better on here in South Carolina.

“This is going to be the year that we help education. It is going to be good for everyone.”

In an interview with the Independent Mail after her speech, Evette said the most important aspects of the House reform bill would provide public school teachers with pay raises and lessen their paperwork burden. She said these steps would help “retain and attract the best and brightest” instructors.

Evette has three children who have attended private schools. She said her daughter attended parochial schools before graduating from Blue Ridge High School in Greer. She said her oldest son graduated from a parochial school and that her youngest son also attends a parochial school.

“I wanted to have faith wrapped around their education because my faith is very important to me,” she said. 

Some, including Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster, have complained about a provision in the House reform bill that would create a Zero to 20 committee to monitor and recommend ways to modernize the state’s education system. According to the legislation, Evette would lead the committee.

“I’m not looking for another bureaucracy,” Royster said.

Evette said the Zero to 20 Committee would not serve as an oversight panel. Instead, she said, it represents “something new to the approach we’ve taken in education.”

“We’re not just throwing money at something and hoping it’s going to get better,” she said. 

Pamela Evette: ‘I want to be your cheerleader’

In the past, South Carolina’s lieutenant governor presided over the state Senate and oversaw the state Office on Aging. But as result of the changes that took effect after last fall’s election, Evette is forging a new path in an office that no longer has clearly defined duties.

“What I want to do is set a bar for all lieutenant governors to come,” she said.

Evette said she has spent the past eight weeks since taking office “getting out and listening to people.”

She said she wants to call attention to positive things that are happening throughout South Carolina.

“Every day something great happens,” she said. “I want to be your cheerleader all around the state.”

Praise from an Anderson legislator for Pamela Evette

State Rep. Anne Thayer, a Republican from Anderson who accompanied Evette on her visit Monday, had kind words for the new lieutenant governor.

“She’s genuine, she’s sincere, she’s smart,” Thayer said.

Thayer also said that McMaster and Evette make a good team. She said they have shown a willingness to work closely with members General Assembly.

Unlike former Gov. Mark Sanford and former Gov. Nikki Haley, Thayer said, McMaster and Evette aren’t looking to use their positions “as a stepping stone to go somewhere else.”

“This is their destination,” she said. “This is their home.”

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