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Buxton Books will host a Sept. 24 talk about children with Dr. Annie Andrews, the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District, and Lisa Ellis, the Democratic candidate for South Carolina superintendent, at a free downtown event. 

“A Conversation on Children” with Andrews and Ellis will be at 4:30 p.m. in the Unitarian Church on Archdale Street ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November to focus on education, safety and healthcare issues impacting children. Prior registration is required at eventbrite.com, and a virtual viewing option is available. Another talk will be held at the church Oct. 12 about the legislative process.

Buxton Books communications director Becky Tanenbaum Lacey said it felt like a natural fit to focus the Sept. 24 community conversation on children with Andrews being a longtime pediatrician and a professor of pediatrics at MUSC and Ellis vying for a position that influences hundreds of thousands of South Carolina students. 

“Our children need leaders that will fight for them,” Andrews told City Paper, “and it starts by having a conversation about policy priorities that center [on] children.”

In addition to issues related to public education funding, Andrews also mentioned the politicalization of education as a discussion topic. 

“For too long, our education system has suffered because politicians think they know better than teachers and parents,” Andrews said over email correspondence. 

“I will not support banning books and will not be distracted by talking points about critical race theory … 

The politicization of our education system and the vitriol that has been injected into our schools must end.”

Andrews said she will also touch on other issues like gun violence.

“I have never been particularly interested in a conversation about guns,” she said, “but I am interested in a conversation about bullet holes in children and what we can do to prevent them.”

As a practicing pediatrician, Andrews said the issue of healthcare access and affordability is personal.

“I believe that no one in the United States should go broke because they or their child got sick,” she said.

For Ellis, topics for conversation include setting teachers up to succeed, staffing schools with mental health professionals and equipping campuses with security technology.   

“Children are our present and our future,” Ellis told the City Paper, “and this conversation is an opportunity for more dialogue around Charleston families’ top concerns for their children, as well as what they’d like to see coming out of the Department of Education.” 

“We currently have a teacher shortage of over 1,000 vacancies [in South Carolina],” Ellis said. “We cannot begin to tackle improving our curriculum until we guarantee enough teachers to teach it. We also need to focus on student safety, both in terms of physical and mental well-being.” 

Andrews and Ellis will share their views and prompt each other to respond, Lacey said, then an open Q&A portion for attendees will follow. 

The next talk will be Oct. 12 with local civil rights lawyer Armand Derfner and former Charleston School of Law constitutional law professor John Simpkins, a South Carolina native, to discuss voting rights and the Supreme Court, she said. Simpkins, a former Obama Administration official, now heads MDC Inc., in Durham, N.C.

The conversation series is Buxton Books’ response to political questions and social upheaval, said owner Polly Buxton. “Bookstores are not like other stores. We take seriously the responsibility to disseminate ideas and encourage conversation and debate.”

As a seller of Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s books, Buxton said the store has received feedback from residents on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Even though we don’t wish to offend or alienate anyone, we just don’t believe [in] the censorship or banning of books,” Buxton said. “We don’t believe in the censorship or banning of ideas.”

The City Paper is a co-sponsor of both presentations.


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