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Home arrow Media Center arrow Education forum sponsors seek constitutional amendment
Education forum sponsors seek constitutional amendment

Mar 24, 2009
By KATE CERVE
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In schools along South Carolina's poor Interstate 95 corridor, ceilings have collapsed and classroom temperatures dip below 50 degrees during the winter. Sewage backs up into the hallways on rainy days.

The conditions of schools in poor, rural areas of the state are deplorable, said Carol Lucas, the program coordinator for the Beaufort chapter of the American Association of University Women and a former high school English teacher.

On Thursday, she and other members of the group will sponsor a community forum at the Technical College of the Lowcountry to advocate improvements for those schools. The event is part of an awareness campaign launched by Bud Ferillo, director and producer of "Corridor of Shame," a documentary exposing the neglect of South Carolina's rural schools.

"I think that in this era, when the education of those who are going to take our place is at stake ... it is a civic responsibility to educate yourself about what is going on," Lucas said.

Residents who attend the forum will be encouraged to sign a petition to amend the state constitution to require "a high quality education, allowing every student to reach their highest potential." The language would replace the current standard of "a minimally adequate education," which was established by the S.C. Supreme Court in 1999.

The campaign's goal is to collect one million signatures before presenting the petition to the S.C. General Assembly. The group hopes to have an amendment on the general election ballot for a vote in November 2010.

According to GoodbyeMinimallyAdequate.com, the Web site advocating the petition, it has been signed by more than 46,000 people.

Benton Wise, a senior at West Florence High School in Florence, has collected more than 800 signatures for the petition and will speak at Thursday's forum.

"You can see the disparities and inequities in education," he said. "Something needs to be done if we can hope toward a better future."

Other speakers at the forum include:

• Ferillo, producer and director of "Corridor of Shame."

• Steve Morrison, an attorney in Abbeville County School District, et al. v. The State of South Carolina, et al., a lawsuit 36 school districts brought against the state for failing to provide "minimally adequate education" to all students.

• Bakari Sellers, a Democratic member of the state House.

• Bernie Schein, local author and educator.

What: A community forum on South Carolina public education When: 7 p.m. Thursday Where: The main auditorium of the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort campus Details: goodbyeminimallyadequate.com

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