South Carolina Superintendent of Education is anything but, however, Mick Zais uses his political power to keep South Carolina's education down in the gutter.
Along with the glitz queen Nikki Haley, Zais has no respect for the public school system, its teachers or the students.
A prominent example is Zais' refusal to have South Carolina participate in the federal Race to the Top education grants.
Today, South Carolina school districts in desperate need of funds - and bypassing the Republican stalwarts - have applied for the grants.
A dozen South Carolina school districts have told the U.S. Department of Education they plan to apply for a piece of $400 million in grants to be distributed nationwide.Zais ought to be ashamed of his decision - especially when he recently walked through public schools with a smile on his face.
The latest round of the Obama administration's Race to the Top grants calls for districts to apply directly - the only way South Carolina schools could get a chunk.
As a reminder, here's what Jackie B. Hicks, president of The South Carolina Education Association, had to say in August of 2011...
First, Superintendent of Education Mick Zais refused to apply for $50 million in federal
education funding under the Race to the Top program. The grant program provides billions in federal stimulus money for states to improve their education systems. South Carolina’s grant would have improved access to early childhood education.
The grant required programs to be diverse, self-designed, and data-driven. In other words, SC would have had to spend the money on a program the state itself designs and measures to expand access for all children to early childhood education.
Superintendent Zais said he found these criteria overly restrictive. “Schools need less, not more, federal intrusion to increase student achievement,” Zais said.
The South Carolina School Boards Association and South Carolina Association of School
Administrators called Zais’ decision “stunning.” but The SCEA was not surprised. After all, throughout his 2010 campaign Zais said he would not seek Race to the Top funding.
Second, and what even we found stunning was the Superintendent’s refusal to accept $144 million federal dollars from the Education Jobs Fund. It was created with federal stimulus money to help prevent teacher layoffs. Every other state in the country has received its share of this money, and $144 million is still available for South Carolina.
Let me repeat: SC is the only state in the nation not accepting its fair share of federal dollars. To gain the $144 million, the state has only to invest a tiny sum in its own colleges and universities.
Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have accepted this funding. With bdirection from Superintendent Zais, the state's congressional delegation can request the money up until September 30. After that it will go to other states.
The Legislature recently refused to issue bonds so that five South Carolina school districts can operate this year. Even if they had, Gov. Nikki Haley, with no objection from Superintendent, had said she would veto the bill.
So not only is the Superintendent refusing to provide adequate state funding to our schools, he is refusing to permit local communities and the federal government to do their parts. This is clearly a dereliction of his duty as Superintendent of Education.