South Carolina’s supreme court late last week quietly put an end to a 24-year battle with the state’s legislature over how it funds its most rural school districts.
The string of schools along Interstate 95, located in some of the state’s most isolated areas, became known as the “Corridor of Shame” after a documentary was aired in 2005 that depicted decrepit conditions with students unable to read and write.
“I had stumbled into another century,” the host says at one point in the documentary.
Thirty of those districts argued in a lawsuit in 1993 that the state had neglected to give them with enough money to provide its students with a “minimally adequate education.”
The state’s high court has gone back and forth with the legislature, the plaintiffs, and the defendants since then.
On Friday, the court voted 3-2 to end oversight of the legislature’s spending, arguing that it is not the role of the court to dictate how the legislature spends the state’s money.
“The General Assembly can now focus solely on our children’s education needs rather than compliance with the arbitrary standard” of the supreme court, said House speaker Jay Lucas, according to the Associated Press.
Chief Justice Don Beatty, who dissented, said the court should wait for the legislature should finish a study to determine how much money it would require for the districts to provide a minimal education.
“Unfortunately, our Court has lost the will to do even the minimal amount necessary to avoid becoming complicit actors in the deprivation of a minimally adequate education to South Carolina’s children,” Beatty wrote, according to the Associated Press.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.