For those who have been teaching in South Carolina for a while, they remember our previous educational superintendent, Mick Zais. He had zero experience teaching in the public schools, and it was clear that he was not in favor of public education and saw teachers as largely the problem. His name became a swear word among educators. He did so poorly that he did not even run for re-election in 2014 though he somehow obtained a top position in Betsy Devos’ Department of Education.
We are in great danger of having someone very similar to Mick Zais in office-Ellen Weaver. Like Zais, she has no teaching experience and does not meet the requirements of having a master’s degree, which is now required for the position. She said she is going to get one in the next sixth months, which makes a mockery of a legitimate graduate degree and the seriousness of the position.
Even more concerning is her very open support for privatization. Like Zais, she is not strong on the very concept of traditional public schools. Her former work with far-right ideologies like Jim Demint make this pretty clear. She will do whatever she can to promote vouchers and allowing private entities to get entangled in our school system. She also will not be a champion for teachers, which is why she has almost no teacher support and instead receives support from people like school privatization advocate and billionaire, Ben Navarro. Of course, Zais himself has supported Weaver.
I know there are different strategies for the superintendent race. Many educators will likely vote for the Democratic candidates. Personally, I am voting in the GOP primary for Kathy Maness as I believe she has the qualifications necessary. Though I do not agree with her on everything and I do think she is far too much in favor of public school choice, she does at least believe in the ideas of public education and is a supporter of teachers. I am also completely convinced that whoever the GOP nominee is will definitively win the election. Our educational system has a lot of issues that need to be solved; we need a serious superintendent who at the minimum has the basic qualifications and believes in public education. Whatever you do, make sure you go out and vote in the primaries next Tuesday, June 14th.