Zais Flexibility? For Whom?

Update on Post:  Immediately after sounding the alarm below on Zais’ proposed changes to Regulation 43-205  I started making my own phone calls to all S.C. School Board members and found that the meeting on Wednesday will be in the Policy and Legislation Committee rather than before the whole Board .  Click here for members of that committee and the Agenda for Oct. 9. 

The South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais proposals to modify Regulation 43-205 are to be considered at the State Board of Education meeting on October 9 at 1:00 pm in the Rutledge Conference Center in Columbia.  Superintendent Zais’s avowed purpose for the proposals he is to present is to grant “flexibility” to public schools.  What a cruel choice of words for giving more flexibility to cut even further our legislature’s inadequate support for public education and to expand the continuing attack for funding we do have under the evil guise of “choice”.

When I examined the items included in Reg. 43-205 the original items seemed to be close to the assurances that I and other principals complete at the start of each school year asserting that our schools are in compliance with state law in providing these guarantees determined by the state to offer our children the “minimally adequate education” promised in the South Carolina Constitution and formalized in the Education Finance Act of 1977.  These assurances I checked set limits on class sizes, determined that school teachers and principals should be trained and certified for the jobs they carried out.  Education, training and ratio of number of positions relative to size of school were specified for these as well as guidance counselors, and librarians, and teachers’ aides.

All of these assurances will be gone if Zais has his way.  Schools of less than 400 students will not have to have a certified principal, only an unspecified “individual” certified in something.  Would Zais agree that MD’s or dentists in small practices do not need to be certified as skilled in their professions?  Do lawyers, unless their clients are numerous enough, not have to have passed the state bar exam?  These conclusions appear to be reasonable applications of his reasoning.

These “regulations” I made sure my school complied with each year represented minimum standards for all schools.  Too many children in a classroom – add a new teacher. Over 600 students in my school – I qualified to have an assistant principal.  Regulations in general intend to promote the public good, in this case ensuring that each child, parent and teacher be protected from “excessive” flexibility on the part of legislators and government agencies intent on cutting expenses for some constituents even if it hurts other of their constituents they choose not to represent. One would hope Zais would consider public school students, teachers, and parents his constituents, but obviously not.  The key question then is, flexibility for whom? Who is being protected? A few elites or all citizens of the state?

Below is a sample from the Zais altered Reg. 43-105 saying no special training is needed to supervise or train others.  He came out of the military.  By his reasoning there is no need for specialist qualifications or rank in the military.  We can shut down those costly training bases.


Below you see that Zais wishes to abandon all restrictions on the number of students each teacher (or other “individual”) may be assigned.  A first grade class with 60 students?  No problem.


I recently attended Rock Hill Three’s Engagement Conference where invited speakers, district office staff, and our own teachers gathered to share their knowledge, insights, enthusiasm about teaching more effectively.  One speaker shared on-line resources for teaching social studies and other topics.  I was struck by a picture on this web site of two children standing barefoot upon the moving parts of a loom while working in a textile mill.  The topic was the campaign for child labor laws in the first few years of the 20th Century.  I wondered if the owners of the industries fighting against losing their right to hire 6 and 7 year olds protested that they were losing their “flexibility” to run their companies as they wished.  Certainly such practices helped them to maximize their profits.  It led me to thinking of the many “Assurances” we have achieved in our country to protect our citizens.

We have assurances called regulations in the airline industry that planes are inspected, will not (frequently) fall to the ground, and that we will arrive more or less when and where we want.  We have Health Departments to assure us that the food we purchase in stores or restaurants will not make us ill.  We have assurances that our highways will be built safely and that regulations guide us and everyone in safe speeds and behavior when we travel.  Imagine abandoning these protections so that all businesses or agencies offering services to the public could have greater “flexibility” for themselves!  A frightening experience in Kenya last summer was an unforgettable taxi ride across Nairobi in five pm traffic where the traffic lights were turned off, traffic cops could be ignored, and everyone had the flexibility to drive as insanely as they wished.

Zais is only thinly disguising his intent by saying that the new rules are meant to give districts more flexibility.  It is another continuing attack on public schools.  Certainly we need to improve.  I never have been a part of any perfect organization.  I worked toward academic improvement as a principal and I am working toward improvement as a member of the Rock Hill School Board.  Please don’t allow Zais to abandon our students and their parents.  All deserve to be treated with more respect that his action implies.

See below our State Board of Education members.  Please ask them to reject Zais’ revisions for Regulation 43-205.  Do not stop with contacting just your own; they wil all vote on this matter. Phone calls are preferred. Just make them before Oct. 9 at noon.

State Board of Education Members

Dr. David Blackmon, Chair
1106 Pinehurst Dr, Hartsville 29550
843-383-5950 (O); 843-992-4936 (C)
4th Circuit (Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Marlboro)
Mr. Barry Bolen, Chair-Elect
133 Congaree Park Dr, West Columbia 29169
803-791-1020 (O); 803-315-1627 (C)
11th Circuit (Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick, Saluda
Dr. David Longshore
463 DuBois Dr, Orangeburg 29118
803-536-9834 (H); 803-682-0166 (C)
1st Circuit (Calhoun, Dorchester, Orangeburg)
Mr. Jim Griffith
144 Highland Reserve Ct, Aiken 29803
734-516-2582 (C)
2nd Circuit (Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell)
Term expires December 31, 2015
Mrs. Lonzena Harry
352 Calvary Church Rd., Bishopville, SC 29010
803-428-6852 (H), 803-486-0046 (C) 3rd Circuit (Clarendon, Lee, Sumter, Williamsburg)
Term expires December 31, 2015 
Dr. Traci Young Cooper
120 Stonebrook Dr., Blythewood, SC 29016
803-231-6842(W), 803-735-9938(H), 803-414-7101 (C)
5th Circuit (Kershaw, Richland)
Term expires December 31, 20
Mrs. Raye O’Neal Boyd
239 Charming Cir. Winnsboro, 29180 803-635-4995 (H); 803-201-4524 (C)
6th Circuit (Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster)
Term expires December 31, 2013 
Mr. Neil Willis
168 Clear Creek Dr, Boiling Springs, 29316/ 864-486-0267 (O); 864-814-0866 (H); 864-809-5608 (C)
7th Circuit (Cherokee, Spartanburg)
Term expires December 31, 2014
Mrs. Dru James
106 Fair Oaks Ln, Greenwood 29646
864-223-1878 (H); 864-993-0889 (C)
8th Circuit (Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens, Newberry
Mr. Larry Kobrovsky
402 Sea Breeze Ln, Sullivans Island, 29482/ 843-853-3703 (O);
843-883-3366 (H); 843-327-2406 (C)
9th Circuit (Berkeley, Charleston)
Term expires December 31, 201
Mr. Jeff Kubu
109 Buttercup Trail, Anderson, SC 29621
864-617-1049 (C)
10th Circuit (Anderson, Oconee)
Term expires December 31, 2016
Bishop Michael A. Blue
3424 Maude’s Rd, Marion, 29571
12th Circuit (Florence, Marion)
Term expires December 31, 201
Dr. Danny Varat
40 Douglas Dr, Greenville, 29605
864-787-4150 (O)
13th Circuit (Greenville, Pickens)
Term expires December 31, 2015
Dr. Rhonda Edwards
22 Maple St., Ridgeland, 29936
843-726-5239 (H)
14th Circuit (Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper)
Term expires December 31, 2016 
Dr. Thomas L. Shortt
85 Bonnyneck Dr, Georgetown, 29440
15th Circuit (Georgetown, Horry)
Term expires December 31, 2015 
Mr. John Rampey
307 Brookside Dr, Union, 29379
803-324-7641 ext. 112 (O); 864-427-8600 (H); 864-466-2261 (C)
16th Circuit (Union, York)
Term expires December 31, 2014
Mr. Michael Brenan
1215 Jennings Ct, Columbia, 29204
803-251-1440 (O)
Governor’s Appointee
Serves at the will of the Governo


Curtis LeMay wrote an excellent opinion piece that ran in the Sept. 28, 2013 Rock Hill Herald on this topic — click here for the full article.   It offers a very clear summary of this issue.  Thank you, Mr. LeMay.

My fellow Rock Hill Three School Board member Ginny Moe  has several good posts on this topic (click through for these posts). Bad Changes Proposed by Dr. Zais, More on Bad proposed changes to regulation 43-205,and Zais’s Proposed Changes – from Patrick Hayes.


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4 Responses to Zais Flexibility? For Whom?

  1. Mary Keenan says:

    Please reject superintendent Zais’ revisions to Regulation 43-205. Thank you.

    – Mary Keenan
    Rock Hill, SC

    (sent the above message to each and every one of the commissioners. – Mary)

  2. Ashley Fripp says:

    Zais is very uninformed. I would suspect he us looking at numbers. We are people and each and every child needs a chance! Test can not tell you about a child! Only people who care and are around should be able to assess. Each child in our system us someone’s everything. Numbers can’t tell you the true story.

  3. Constance Hildebrand says:

    Please reject superintendent Zais’ revisions to Regulation 43-205. Thank you.

  4. Jo-Ann Liddick says:

    Parents, grandparents, great grandparents, other family members and every citizen in this state who wants our children to get an education that prepares them for this century must demand a better school system than Zais is recommending. Our children deserve better.