Zais: Students who are not going to college do not need advanced courses

Zacharo Gialamas Contributor
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South Caroline Superintendent of Education Mick Zais says if students have decided by ninth grade that they don’t want to go to a four-year college, they should not be required to take high-level literature or math courses in the literary classics.

The Greenville News reported on Zais’ comments to the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club.

“The fact is 70 percent of our students will never go to a four-year college,” Zais said, according to the News. “And most kids, by the time they reach ninth grade, have figured out in their own mind if they are on a four-year college track.”

“And if they’ve determined that they are not, they are uninterested in plot development in British novels, the difference in structure between a sonnet and an ode, or what iambic pentameter is.”

“And likewise, they know a lot of very successful people who cannot factor a polynomial, compute sine or cosine or solve a quadratic equation.”

“Many of those students perceive what they’re learning in school as irrelevant to their futures,” he said. “Should we be surprised if they are disinterested, disengaged, are in many cases discipline problems?”

Jackie Hicks, president of the South Carolina Education Association, a teachers union, said Zais is wrong in saying most ninth-graders have made their decision about college. She argued that students need to know about the possibilities for their future throughout their high school years. She also argues that the Common Core is actually good guide for this process.

“Just because someone may think that they’re not going to college does not mean that you’re not going to need a little more advanced mathematics to understand the world around you,” she said.

According to the College Enrollment Statistics, there were actually more students enrolled in public-four-year institutions than in public two-year institutions.