A roundup of reaction from around South Carolina ...
Dillon 4 Superintendent D. Ray Rogers:
“I’ve learned one thing, you’ve got to have patience. The thing is, I probably won’t see a difference made, but it will come and it will be a benefit to teachers and kids in later years. I just don’t want to see another superintendent and another board have to worry about finances...
“I can’t wait to tell my board it wasn’t all in vain. There have been so many people involved over the 21 years, some of them are not even with us anymore. Finally their voices were heard.”
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Molly Spearman, Republican, state Superintendent of Education-Elect:“Over the past several months I traveled to schools throughout South Carolina to listen to the concerns of parents, teachers, and school leaders and share a vision of a world class education for every South Carolina student. A cornerstone of that vision is that we must fix our broken funding formula. Today’s Supreme Court ruling should be seen as a mandate that gives us the unique opportunity to resolve problems that will impact the future of our children and grandchildren for years to come and act to ensure every student has every opportunity everyday regardless of where they happen to reside or the their socio-economic background. As the next state Superintendent of Education, I am excited to bring the best minds together to craft the right solutions for all children in South Carolina.”
Scott Price, executive director-elect, S.C. School Boards Association:
“The court in its ruling clearly states that the mechanism for funding our schools is broken and more significantly, cited the state’s failure to meet its constitutional duty. It sends a directive to our state leaders to work with local districts and fix it. We are finalizing a funding plan that addresses the issues raised by the court, especially the need to place students at the forefront of decision making and policy. Our plan allocates funding for students based on their needs and not where they live. We will be raising awareness and advocate for this plan in the coming months.”
S.C. Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington:
“Today was indeed a great day in South Carolina, especially for our children. For over a decade the citizens of this state have waited for a decision to be made on this issue because the implications of this decision would have tremendous impact on the children of South Carolina. A child's educational opportunities should not be limited to where a child is born or the social economic status of the family the child is born to. As a state we have an obligation to provide the best quality education for our children. This is a huge win for the Palmetto State. I look forward to working in a bi-partisan manner with my colleagues in the House, Senate and at the local level to ensure we take the necessary steps to provide a first class public education system for our children in South Carolina.”
S.C. Senate Assistant Minority Leader John Matthews, D-Orangeburg:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling was very special for me personally. As someone who represents school districts within the Corridor of Shame (along Interstate 95), I can tell you first hand this will have a significant impact on the future of those school districts. I was called in as an expert witness in the lawsuit, and what I made clear to the court was simply this, if we (in South Carolina) want our children to effectively compete in an ever-changing global society, we must do whatever it takes to make sure our children’s opportunities are not defined by where they live.”
Bud Ferillo, producer and director of “Corridor of Shame: The Neglect of South Carolina's Rural Schools”:
“If you live long enough and are on the side of history, you can win. This is an unambiguous victory for all school children in South Carolina, 52 percent of whom live in poverty, far more than those when the suit was filed in 1993. Now the struggle for compliance goes to the legislature for remedies. We must hope they will begin a multi-year effort to bring high quality education, not a minimally adequate one, to all our school districts. I am thrilled to have this decision.”
Carl Epps, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the districts in 1993:
“It’s not just about money. It’s about developing programs or more importantly the teacher stability, the teacher qualifications, to reach the children. ... We waste so much money in our state on education, historically have done that, because we’ve never had a comprehensive plan. So this gives us the opportunity to do that.”
“This is an historical moment for the state of South Carolina, it truly is.”
State Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield
“My initial thought is it sounds like the court is making a policy determination, which should be more of a decision for the General Assembly to me. But that aside, education funding is always the number one issue when it comes to the budget. If you believe that your priorities are where you're spending the money, then education is the number one priority by far. But that doesn't mean we can't do a better job of what we're doing, and I think it certainly needs more focus in rural areas, because the rural areas have by and large been excluded from the education equation. ... I think education is a state issue. We are not going to be competitive as a state if you have only the wealthy districts producing quality education. ... I think in that case the state has an obligation to pick up to ensure that the rural students are receiving the same type of educational opportunities. That may be money, but that is most likely a whole lot more than money. Leadership matters. I think leadership matters more than the money matters. You've got to have the right people in the positions to make sure that money is being spent in the right places.”
Rep. James Smith, D-Richland
“There is also precedent and a basis for judicial intervention if we fail to provide a remedy.”Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw
“As someone who represents rural South Carolina, I am thrilled with the court's finding. However I do think it is sad when the S.C. Supreme Court has to do what elected leaders should do.”
Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, who is part of a committee studying teacher pay and teacher shortages:
“We just need to look at all this and put it all together.”
Rep. Tommy Stringer, R-Greenville, a member of the House Education and Public Works Committee:
"South Carolina parents should never have been forced to settle for a minimally adequate education for their child. The Legislature should now recognize that parents have the right to choose the best education option for their child and should explore methods to have state funding follow the child so that parents can exercise that right."
Regina Hitchcock, State Director for StudentsFirst South Carolina:In response to the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling on educational equity today, StudentsFirst South Carolina State Director Regina Hitchcock issued the following statement:
“Justice has been done in the Supreme Court, now it needs to be carried through by our state Legislature.
“Today’s long-awaited ruling is a resounding response to the pleading voices of rural and low-income districts struggling to educate our children. It underscores the critical importance of turning around our lowest performing schools and getting a great teacher in every classroom, regardless of the race, income-class, or zip code of those students.
“As a leading partner in improving our state’s education system, StudentsFirst South Carolina looks forward to working with the Legislature, and other partners to help put today’s ruling into action.”
State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, President Pro Tempore, R-Florence:
“Obviously, we will comply with that order. I do want my attorneys to look at it and decide what that means for us. ... It'll be a matter of the two groups getting together and deciding what the order really says and what kind of solution (it calls for). ... I never question what the court says – that's what we have attorneys for. I need to get them to tell me exactly what the order means. You know, not doing enough for education or poor districts I guess kind of lies in the eyes of the beholder. I certainly would not take objection with what the court says.”
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop of the Eiscopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina:
“This is a splendid day for the children of South Carolina. This historic ruling creates a new path to increase and more equally distribute funding for teacher salaries, school maintenance, lunch programs and transportation across the state. We in the Episcopal Church, working with our partners in the SC Bishops' Public Education Initiative, will continue to enlist our church members in programs to support public education in the ways we can best contribute - through tutoring, mentoring, enrichment programs, providing supplies, and building relationships in impoverished schools. God calls us to raise up the gifts and talents of every child, and we are deeply committed to continued support where we can offer it.”