NEWS: Trump picks Zais for post; Silent Witness ceremony honors victims

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Former S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais.  Photo: Milkin Family Foundation

Trump taps Zais to #2 federal education post

Former S.C. schools chief Mick Zais appears to be headed back into public service nearly three years after leaving the state post. On Wednesday, the White House announced President Donald Trump intended to nominate Zais to be deputy U.S. Secretary of Education.

The deputy position, vacant since Jan. 20,  is a presidential appointment that requires Senate confirmation.

Zais ran the S.C. Department of Education after he was first elected in 2010 and served 2011 to 2015. While in office, he made national headlines for his opposition to common core standards and his refusal to take part in a federal program that could have brought millions to state schools, calling the program “penny-wise and pound-foolish” in a 2014 op/ed.

A White House press release noted:

“During his term in office, the department’s budget was reduced while on-time high school graduation rates increased every year to an all-time high.  The number of public charter schools increased 78 percent, the number of public charter school students increased 155 percent, and the number of students taking online courses grew 130 percent.”

Zais did not seek reelection in 2014. At the time, he cited his busy career and said his family made “enormous sacrifices” for his career, leading ultimately to his decision to not run.

Prior to his brief stint in public office, Zais served 31 years in the U.S. Army and is a retired brigadier general.

—  Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent

Photo: S.C. Attorney General’s office.

Statehouse ceremony held for 39 who died in 2016 from domestic violence

Forty life-sized silhouettes blazed streaks of color across the steps of the staid Statehouse during a somber Tuesday ceremony that honored South Carolinians who died of domestic violence in 2016.

One silhouette represented potential unknown victims.  Thirty-four of the cut-outs, carried by family members, friends or volunteers, were for the 34 women who died in 2016 as the result of domestic violence.  Another five represented men who died.

“On this 20th anniversary of the Silent Witness ceremony, we pause to remember the women and men whose lives were cut short due to this senseless crime,” said S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who called the name of those who lost their lives.  “The effects of domestic violence are felt by families and loved ones for generations. We look forward to the day when this ceremony is no longer necessary.”

Wilson said the state has the fifth highest number of women murdered by men, according to the recent report, When Men Murder Women, which is based on 2015 data.

According to a press release, “the Violence Policy Center has published that report annually for 20 years. During that period, the nationwide rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has dropped 29 percent — from 1.57 per 100,000 people in 1996 to 1.12 per 100,000 in 2015.”

— Andy Brack, editor and publisher

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