Sunday, December 5, 2010

New State School's Chief Visits Dutch Fork High!

Superintendent-Elect (Dr. Mick Zais) Visits Dutch Fork High
By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork High School “It Kids” got the opportunity to meet the man who has a plan for improving public education in South Carolina. Dr. Mick Zais, State Superintendent of Education-Elect, said he’s optimistic about the future of public education despite recent setbacks. The retired Brigadier General and College President shared his recent experiences campaigning for office and his non-traditional ideas for solving our state’s persistent education problems.

Zais stated he was qualified to run for statewide office because of his strong leadership experience. Our Superintendent-Elect plans to focus on the needs of students, parents, administrators, educators, businesspeople, and legislators in moving our state forward.

Students asked, “Given the severely diminished budget for South Carolina’s education, what ideas do you support to get money into the classroom? And how will you work with the legislature to achieve your goals?”  Zais said that given the economically challenged times we’re in every dollar spent ought to be looked at carefully and our spending decisions need to be prioritized. He will work closely with the Legislature to make sure tax dollars make it to the classrooms. One of the students pointed out that less than half of the money allocated to education currently makes it to the classroom. Dr. Zais was asked if the problem was with the Legislature, the State Department, or the Districts themselves. He answered that we need an audit at all levels to determine what action would be most appropriate to ensure that we maximize the education dollars being spent. He added that we should permit local administrators to spend the dollars they receive in their areas of greatest need.

Dr. Zais is ready to improve South Carolina’s model for public education by promoting more charter schools, tax-credit needs-based scholarships for students in consistently failing schools, and innovative learning environments for students. The students agreed that everyone should embrace creative, innovate, substantial reforms in education.  Dr. Zais indicated his desire to foster an environment in which teachers and parents feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, and he pledged to help give teachers more flexibility to teach.

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