State Superintendent Wants To Create District For Failing Schools

Columbia, Sc (WLTX) - Year after year South Carolina ranks in the bottom in the country when it comes to education.

Superintendent Mick Zais says it's time for change and the his new proposal could mean taking away power from school districts.

"No child should be forced to attend a failing school and poor kids can learn. And we need to offer an alternative to these schools that are failing year after year," said State Superintendent Mick Zais.

Under the current statute, the state education department does have the power to take over a district but cannot make key changes in administration.

The proposal will give the state the power to what Zais calls "replacing the people who are the problem."

"We've proposed a system much like the SC Charter School District where there is a school board where there is a superintendent and a staff that would manage that would manage these schools."

After a school has failed by federal standards for three straight years they would be placed in a 'transformational district"

But the proposal comes with some resistance.

"We cannot just go in for a few years and come back out, we have to look at everything, what are the indicators that are going to make great public schools," said Jackie Hicks, President of the South Carolina Education Association.

Hicks believes the problem can be fixed before taking a school out of its district.

"It didn't just happen. There are things that occurred over a period of time that created that school. We've heard it's the teachers. Well if so, then what are providing for those teachers to help them be better at what they do?"

Zais says that schools in places like Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans have improved as a result of having a transformation district and hopes the same results can happen in South Carolina.

"What's good for the student and the children, not what's good for the school system. Systems are large bureaucratic organizations; let's ask the question what's best for the children."

As for funding the new district Zais says it should not be any new costs because the money will follow whatever the student's district is.

The statute is now in the house education committee.


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