The two candidates for South Carolina Superintendent of Education each has a career’s worth of knowledge to bring to the job. They differ on how to do the job, and what the job should do.
Republican Mick Zais and Democrat Frank Holleman answered questions from moderator Mark Quinn of South Carolina ETV Monday night, in an intimate and sometimes intense discussion of issues from school vouchers to teacher incentives.
Each man is quick to hold up his own resume as best to lead the state’s public schools through one of its most difficult budget periods in history. The state faces another year of revenue deficits in which the education sector took cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars, resulting in mass teacher layoffs.
The candidates were asked how they would improve funding disparities across the state:
Also among the discussion topics, students’ access to a school of their choice, with the help of tax breaks:
On teacher improvement, Zais says there needs to be a fair evaluation of teacher performance plus a testing regime for how students do under specific teachers. Holleman says the state needs to fight for “TAP” incentives, a Milken-based program. He adds that the state needs the tools to remove incompetent teachers.
Arts funding? Zais: For people to appreciate the arts, they must learn to read. Holleman: Arts stimulate learning, including reading and writing.
On whether job of state superintendent of education should be appointed by governor, Holleman says a statewide campaign is a difficult process, but there is also benefit to meeting and talking with citizens statewide. Zais supports ballot referendum to decide. He says education in the state has become too politicized.