Thursday, February 10, 2011

New South Carolina Secretary of Education needs to also hold parents accountable


BY: Keith H. Seymour-Contributing Editor

First, I should preface my remarks by objectively pointing out that while Secretary Zais' success in raising the academic standing of Newberry College, may go unchallenged, it is only fair to also point out that South Carolina's new Secretary of Education has no experience in dealing with pre-college students or their parents and teachers, except from personal experience in his own role as a parent. These points are not raised to discredit Secretary Zais or his plans to improve education in South Carolina, but to merely allow the reader to make an educated and objective judgment in regards to them, and any related comments made in this editorial.

Recently, South Carolina's new State Superintendent of Education, Mick Zais, a former Army General, who as a college president rescued that same college from being a poor performing college to what many have referred to as a college revered for academic excellence, released a statement on how he plans to raise public education standard in South Carolina.

Specifically, Secretary Zais, would like to pay teachers based on merit rather than their credentials. For example, a teacher will not merely get paid because that teacher has a degree and several years of experience in teaching the subject matter, but on how well that teacher;s students do in the areas of grades and graduation rates. While Secretary Zais' reasoning of of weeding out the bad teachers is certainly justifiable, he need to put the success of South Carolina's public school system into proper perspective by holding parents equally accountable for their children's success. Otherwise he will end up hurting South Carolina's Education system more that it helps.

Since Mr. Zais has no experience working within the public school system, or even with teachers, students, and teachers outside of a collegiate environment, he would be best advised to remember that

any educator, social worker or parent worth his or her salt will admit that good education not only begins, but is reinforced at home. As a matter of fact, this is why many parents and experts feel that home schooling. Magnet schools, and virtual schools have becoming increasing popular over the years.

The fact is a teacher can do everything that he or she needs to to make sure that students are academically successful, but if parents are not reinforcing those efforts through active involvement with the school system teacher, and child, those efforts are going to have a limited an even non-existent positive effect on the student's educational success.

Many parents will even use the excuse that it is inconvenient for them to attend a quarterly parent teacher-conference and are unable to find a combined three or four hours a months to attend a school board meeting, or PTO/PTA meeting, because they already spending an extra 20 or more hours a week taking their kids to extra-curricular activities, in the name of making sure that child is well-rounded, and academically competitive.

If Secretary Zais plans to hold parents accountable for being involved in their children;s educations, how does he plan to do so? He can't make their involvement mandatory. He can't fire them, or affect their paychecks. These are issues Secretary Zais needs to also address in order to improve our state's public school rankings.

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