Former S.C. schools superintendent Mick Zais confirmed as deputy U.S. education secretary

The U.S. Senate confirmed former South Carolina Education Superintendent Mick Zais as the nation’s new deputy education secretary Wednesday in a vote that split along party lines.

The 50-48 vote ended a months-long wait for Zais after President Donald Trump picked him to be Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ second-in-command last October.

Zais became a controversial figure during his four-year tenure leading South Carolina’s education agency, regularly feuding with teacher groups and members of the state Board of Education.

Supporters of the former schools chief expressed optimism when he was nominated that he would be able to push conservative policies on the national level with more like-minded allies in DeVos’ department.

In keeping with a trend across the Trump administration, Zais will serve as another high-ranking official inside a Cabinet agency who has battled with that same agency in the past. During his time as S.C. superintendent, Zais rejected federal funds when he felt there were too many strings attached, lambasting what he viewed as federal overreach.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., congratulated Zais on his confirmation in a tweet Wednesday.

“I have confidence that his addition to the department is a win for education,” Scott said.