|Petition aims to improve education system in SC|
Web site encourages support for 'high quality' schooling
History of the ongoing fight toward public education and a petition for students and the community to sign is provided on the Web site.
Bud Ferillo, Ferillo & Associates Inc.'s president, was the producer, advertiser, public relations agent and director of the film "CORRIDOR OF SHAME: The Neglect of South Carolina's Rural Schools." This film is a documentary some of the state's leaders and foundations asked Ferillo to create in order to educate South Carolinians about how the problems in these schools impact the entire state.
"These are the districts where a funding gap has contributed to an achievement gap," Ferillo said. "In turn, these academically distressed districts pull down the state's averages in virtually every area, from reading levels in elementary school to high rates of dropouts in high school. The state has done nothing to address this disparity in funding."
Ferillo is coordinating a statewide campaign for constitutional action, aiming to raise the state's standard and expectations for public education.
Ferillo said every South Carolinian of school age and above can sign the petition to support this effort at www.GoodbyeMinimallyAdequate.com. Florida, Virginia and Maryland have adopted this language in their constitutions and it has led to better funding of their public school systems from preschool to graduate school.
"That is what we need in South Carolina," Ferillo said, "nothing less."
South Carolina School Improvement Council Executive Director Cassie Barber said ago the General Assembly put into state statutes more than 30 years ago that every K-12 school in S.C. would have a School Improvement Council made up of at least two parents, selected by parents, and two teachers, selected by teachers.
"These School Improvement Councils are more than 15,000 people strong at this point, in more than 1,164 public schools," Barber said. "This is the largest education organization in S.C."
Barber said the board and the state office decided to sign a resolution in support of the Goodbye Minimally Adequate campaign.
"What that campaign is, folks may be familiar with the lawsuit where several school districts along the I-95 corridor sued the state about the idea that public education that was available along the corridor was not good as what was available as other parts of the state and that all children in our state should have access to equally good education," Barber said.
The lawsuit didn't come out as well as the other districts had hoped, "with the judge ruling some changes needed to be in early childhood and what was available."
Barber also said the lawsuit is being appealed and they are waiting for the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the appeal. Former state Supreme Court Justice Ernest Fenning supports the Goodbye Minimally Adequate campaign.
Barber said if one quarter of the population of this state sends a message to the General Assembly, it should get their attention that public education needs to be the number one focus of this state. She said people can also get involved with PTO, join a committee or mentor a child.
"Once the million signatures are obtained, then the campaign would present it to the legislature and they would propose legislation to put this question on the ballot in 2010," Barber said. "Hopefully, the General Assembly would support that and then it would come down to the people who need to support high quality education for our children or not."
Ferillo said the court case brought by the 36 rural school districts is now before the South Carolina Supreme Court awaiting a final decision.
"The whole country needs to wake up to the crisis in America's education," Ferillo said. "We are slipping in our standing in the world and our economy depends entirely on a creative, educated workforce, one that has been schooled in math, science, technology and foreign languages. I think the Obama Administration gets it, and I think we'll see more leadership and initiatives from the federal government now that we have more enlightened leadership in Washington."
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