Name: Mick Zais
Political party: Republican
Years living in area: 10
Family: Married for over 30 years to wife, Susan; two adult children, Bradley and Ashley, both graduates of South Carolina public schools
Education: U.S. Military Academy at West Point, bachelor of science in engineering, 1969; University of Washington, master of science in organizational behavior, 1979; School for Advanced Military Studies, master of arts, military history, 1985; University of Washington, doctorate in social psychology, 1986; National Defense University, post-doctoral studies in national security affairs, 1990
Current occupation: Retired military officer
Employment, military and volunteer history: President, Newberry College, 2000-2010; U.S. Army, 1969-2000, retired as a brigadier general; Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, West Point Association of Graduates, Rotary; Newberry Dove Club, Midstate Dove and Quail Conservation Club; American Philatelic Society
Public elected offices: None
Any unsuccessful political campaigns: None
Other political and government experience: Appointed to serve on the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, South Carolina Tuition Grants Board and the Southern Regional Education Board. Appointed to the Lieutenant Governor's Advisory Council on Aging.
Endorsements received: U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Barbara Nielsen, former state superintendent of education; U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-West Columbia; James Edwards, former governor; David Beasley, former governor; Edie Rodgers, former State Representative District 124; state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort; state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort; state Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton; Andy Patrick, candidate state representative District 123.
S.C. Ethics Commission statement of economic interests: None reported
Campaign money raised: $215,050 for this election cycle, as of July 10
1. Why should people vote for you?
I have experience as an educator and a leader of educators. I turned around a school that was in crisis. After much hard work, Newberry College has been nationally recognized for its excellence. Unlike my opponent, I will not seek another political office. The last two state superintendents of education have used this position as a stepping-stone for higher office, actively campaigning when they should have been focused on the needs of the students.
2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them?
Funding formula. Streamline the funding formula. Funding should be based on the students served, not the programs operated. Beaufort County generates significant tax revenues, but does not receive equitable funding in return because of an antiquated funding formula. Transforming the funding formula to being student-centered will decrease bureaucratic overhead, reduce waste in programs that don't meet student needs, increase equity between schools, strengthen local control and encourage innovation in our public schools.
Local control. While holding schools and school districts publicly accountable for their results, the state must recognize the importance of local control in education. Teachers, principals and district superintendents should have the flexibility to meet the needs of their diverse student populations through innovative and creative solutions. Policies written by out-of-touch bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., have too often been the source, not the solution, to our challenges in education.
School safety. Fundamental to children learning and teachers teaching is having a safe and clean school environment. Teachers must be respected. They should be supported in maintaining discipline and order in their classrooms. Having diversity in the types of public schools we have will allow for children with different needs to have different learning settings and opportunities. All schools must be safe with appropriate boundaries between adults and children established and maintained.
3. What other issues do you see as important?
A "one-size-fits-all" model for education is doomed to fail in the mission of preparing all children for success in adulthood. Regardless of where parents live, they must have access to a full menu of educational options: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, home schooling, online/virtual schools, single-gender schools, Montessori-style schools, year-round schools, alternative schools for students with discipline problems, and privately-operated schools.
Every classroom in South Carolina should be safe and orderly. Teachers must be respected. They should be supported in maintaining discipline and order in the classrooms. Appropriate boundaries between adults and children must be established and maintained, and every student must give and receive respect.
Every child and every parent should expect academic progress every year. Foundational to this is proficiency in reading. Students and parents need to see a return on the investment of their time and energy. Aggressive implementation of reading instruction for struggling readers must be a priority. Every student needs to read to succeed in high school and life.
Teachers should be rewarded for exceptional academic gains for students. There are already schools in South Carolina that have adopted bonus schedules for showing exceptional student gains. These schools use both student achievement data and peer/supervisor evaluations to determine the distribution of bonuses. I believe the overall effects of performance pay will be to increase teacher quality, increase the retention rate of our best teachers and encourage highly motivated individuals to become teachers.
4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
I have proposed all meetings of the S.C. State Board of Education and Education Oversight Committee be web streamed, recorded, and available for download on the S.C. Department of Education website. Working with the comptroller general and school districts, school expenditures for individual schools should be posted online for public review. As state superintendent, I will publish a daily calendar online.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give details.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
7. Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?
Like many residents of Beaufort County, I am a South Carolinian by choice, not by chance. After retiring from the military, my parents settled in Beaufort County and lived here for many years. I attended 10 different public schools and lived around the world, but South Carolina is my adopted home. I have served my country and my faith throughout my career, and for me, this office is the culmination of a lifetime of service.