by Paul Bowers
After catching the wrath of teachers and education leaders statewide, S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais has backed off on a push for legislation that would have eliminated classroom size caps and mandatory staffing levels for most grade levels and subjects.
The proposed changes to state Regulation 43-205 would have been up for debate at the State Board of Education's Nov. 13 meeting in Columbia, but Zais recommended yesterday that the board not consider it for a second reading. In a press release, he pointed out that the state legislature had already relaxed most of the pertinent regulations during the last four tight budget years, but the proposed changes would have made the changes permanent.
"Some have stated that suspending some staffing requirements would lead to packed classrooms," Zais said. "This misinformation is motivated simply by pure, partisan politics.” It remains unclear whether Zais will seek re-election in 2014.
Patrick Hayes, a Charleston County teacher and leader of the education advocacy group EdFirstSC, praised Zais for dropping the proposal. But he also took the opportunity to double down on his request that Zais stay out of next year's race for re-election.
"Even those who agree with his goals and radical libertarian ideology would have to concede that Zais has been singularly ineffective in accomplishing anything of note," Hayes said. "He runs the same play over and over: develop a plan with no input from stakeholders, keep the public in the dark, fail disastrously when it all comes to light … and then withdraw the plan to duck a vote."