Zais to Focus on Holistic Approach to Education

December 17, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveBy Kelly Payne
Citizen Reporter

Mick Zais, state superintendent of education-elect, told a Dutch Fork High School class recently that the future can be positive despite recent educational setbacks.The former military leader and outgoing president of Newberry College shared his experiences on the campaign trail and his non-traditional ideas for solving South Carolina’s persistent education problems.

Zais says he plans on focusing on the needs of students, parents, administrators, educators, businesspeople and legislators in a bid to move the state forward.

Among questions posed by students were: “Given the severely diminished budget for South Carolina’s education, what ideas do you support to get money into the classroom?” and, “And how will you work with the legislature to achieve your goals?”

Zais believes that given the current economic challenges, every dollar spent ought to be considered carefully and spending needs prioritized.

He says he will work hand and hand with the Legislature to ensure that tax dollars are making it into classrooms.

Another student pointed out that less than half of the money allocated to education currently makes it into the classroom. Zais was asked if the problem was with the Legislature, the state department of education or the school districts?

He pointed out that audits are needed at every level of government. That would enable him to take appropriate action necessary to ensure that the best use of money allocated for K-12 education is being made.

Zais added that we need to free up the local administrators to spend the dollars they receive in their areas of greatest need.

Zais says that he is ready to move South Carolina forward by promoting the expansion of charter schools, tax-credit scholarships for resource-challenged students in consistently failing schools, and by promoting a smorgasbord of learning environments for students.

Zais says he wants to foster an environment in which teachers and parents feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, and he will help give teachers more flexibility to teach.

Kelly Payne is a teacher at Dutch Fork High School.