Mick Zais

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Mick Zais
Mick Zais.jpg
South Carolina Superintendent of Education
Former officeholder
In office
January 12, 2011 - January 14, 2015
PredecessorJim Rex (D)
Base salary$92,007
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$450,240
Term limitsNone
Bachelor'sUnited States Military Academy at West Point (1969)
Master'sFort Leavenworth School for Advanced Military Studies; University of Washington
Ph.D.University of Washington (1986)
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1969-2000
Date of birthDecember 10, 1946
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Mick Zais (b. December 12, 1946) was the 17th South Carolina Superintendent of Education, serving from 2011 to 2015. He was first elected in 2010 and assumed office on January 12, 2011.[1] He did not run for re-election in 2014 and was succeeded in office by Republican Molly Mitchell Spearman on January 14, 2015.[1]


Before winning public election as the seventeenth State Superintendent of Education, Zais served as President of Newberry College for ten years.[1] A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served thirty-one years on active duty in the United States Army, retiring as a Brigadier General.[1]


  • Bachelor's of Science degree in engineering from West Point
  • Master's of Science and Doctorate degrees in social psychology and organizational behavior from the University of Washington
  • Master of Arts degree in military history from the School for Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Research Fellow in National Security Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.[1]

Political career

Superintendent of Education (2011-2015)

Zais was first elected in 2010 and assumed office on January 12, 2011.[1]

In February 2013, the South Carolina State Legislature began considering a bill that would make the position of state superintendent an appointed post. Zais said he supported the change.[2]

Common Core

South Carolina had adopted the Common Core Standards but in June 2014, Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation requiring the state to replace the Common Core standards with new ones written by the state Department of Education after the 2014-2015 school year. For that year, the Common Core standards will remain in place.[3] This bill replacing Common Core with state-written standards also included a role for the South Carolina State Legislature in reviewing and approving these new standards to prevent the restoration of Common Core standards under a different name.[3] Haley had long opposed Common Core as had outgoing Superintendent Mick Zais, who specifically warned against his eventual successor putting Common Core back in place through such a method.[4]


Dispute with Board of Education

A showdown between Zais and the state Board of Education began in early December 2011. Upset at Zais for refusing to seek federal grant money earlier in the year, the Board passed a rule that the Superintendent was to report monthly on federal grants available to the state. Zais responded by saying that he doesn't answer to the Board and would not comply with the rule.[5] The board held a meeting on December 8 to resolve the issue, but Zais did not attend. According to his spokesman, Zais was on a "long scheduled" vacation. The board said that if the matter could not be dealt with by December 23, they would take Zais to court.[6]



See also: South Carolina down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Zais was eligible to run for re-election as South Carolina Superintendent of Education in 2014, but announced in December, 2013 that he would not seek a second term.
“After much prayer and thoughtful consideration with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election as state superintendent of education,” Zaid said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision. I was preparing for, and looking forward to, a re-election campaign. I’m confident I would have run a strong campaign and would have been re-elected.” “My campaign was never a stepping stone to higher office. Rather, it was the culmination of a lifetime of service.”[7]


Zais was first elected South Carolina Superintendent of Education in 2010 and assumed office on January 12, 2011.[1]

South Carolina Superintendent of Education, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMick Zais 51.3% 680,787
     Democratic Frank Holleman 43.1% 572,508
     Libertarian Tim Moultrie 2.7% 35,362
     Green Doretha A. Bull 1.6% 20,787
     Independent Tony Fayyazi 1.4% 18,107
     Write-In Various 0% 513
Total Votes 1,328,064
Election Results via South Carolina State Election Commission

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Zais is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Zais raised a total of $450,240 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 11, 2013.[8]

Mick Zais's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 SC Superintendent of Public Instruction Not up for election $20,882
2010 SC Superintendent of Public Instruction Won $429,358
Grand Total Raised $450,240


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Mick Zais's donors each year.[9] Click [show] for more information.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Rex (D)
South Carolina Superintendent of Education
Succeeded by
Molly Mitchell Spearman (R)