The speaker of the S.C. House says state representatives have done what they promised to do to fix the state’s poor, rural public schools.
House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, Thursday asked the S.C. Supreme Court to release the House as a defendant in a decades-old lawsuit, which alleges the state does not do enough to educate low-income students.
The S.C. House “has proven itself to be committed to education reform and providing a 21st century education to every South Carolina student,” Lucas said in a statement.
Three years ago, the S.C. Supreme Court ordered lawmakers and the governor to find ways to improve poor, rural schools. The court ordered the Legislature to work with representatives of those school districts to come up with a solution.
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Lucas formed a committee of lawmakers, members of the business community and educators to come up with ideas. Some of those proposals made it into legislation, including a bill that would pave the way for the state to borrow money to renovate or build new schools. That responsibility is left to individual school districts under current law.
Few of the House proposals — including the building proposal — have become law. However, some have, including a plan to evaluate how districts spend money and another setting standards for what a 21st graduate should be able to do.
“I believe our work achieves a higher standard than the Court’s definition of a ‘minimally adequate education.’ Therefore, the House should be relieved of its responsibilities in this lawsuit,” Lucas said.
The parties in the school-equity lawsuit, including the House, must update the court later this month on what they have done to improve the state’s poor schools.