Court Decision Will Impact SC High Schools Part IV

The precedent-setting educational spending case that is currently being tried in Manning, South Carolina has been outlined in the first three parts of this series. In this article, I will offer you my opinions on this subject and how this possibly has ramifications at the collegiate level with athletics.

Part I Link
Part II Link
Part III Link

In an attempt to simplify the issues, I will offer 5 questions that surround this case and some of the ramifications that could possibly be ushered to the forefront upon the decision of the judge in Manning.

I, of course, am not that judge. Trying to predict the outcome of this case would be foolish considering the state has yet to even call their first witness. However, with the battle lines clearly drawn, I think it is possible for me to try and push through the details of the case to offer an educated opinion on what is right and what is wrong in terms of this case and the implications that could occur.

#1- Are Students In These Districts Being Educated "Minimally Adequate"
Remember, it is the primary argument of the suing districts that they are not able to provide a minimally adequate education to their students because of the low test scores and drop out rates. And also keep in mind that the state is only mandated (by our South Carolina Constitution) to provide a minimally adequate educational opportunity to every child in this state.

As sad as it sounds, the state is probably offering enough resources to minimally educate the students in these rural districts. The state will be able to show that it is pumping as much money into these districts as it is some of the more successful districts in the state. Therefore, by default, the onus must at some point fall back to the rural districts themselves to ensure that this money is spent in a way that educates its children. Proving otherwise is going to be an uphill battle for the rural districts.

#2-Is Minimally Adequate Enough?
The answer to that is a resounding "no". The state, possible smartly so, did not paint itself into a corner when developing its constitution. By defining the role of the state many years ago only to provide a minimally adequate education, the state has semi washed its hands clean of being held responsible for poorly educating its youth.

Nowhere is it written that the state must make Einstein's out of every child in this state. And, more importantly, the state does not even have to educate a child to a morally acceptable level considering our times.

Minimally adequate today will get you a job at Wal Mart, if you are lucky. More than likely, minimally adequate will leave you plugging along in a textile mill or simply out of work and living off of welfare. And, quite frankly, the state does not seem to feel bad about that.

#3-Does It Take More Money To Do Equal Work In These Rural Districts?
If the average South Carolinian spent 10 seconds in a school from one of these rural districts, the repulsiveness of the atmosphere would be enough to make you cry. These school facilities, equipment, and resources are pathetic.

Who in their right mind would want to move to the middle of nowhere to teach in conditions that are borderline criminal? The answer is, not many folks. And hence the Catch 22 these districts are in. These districts need to spend more money to lure the top teachers and administrators, yet that money is simply not there.

#4-Responsibility
Who, directly, is responsible for the position that we are in now with the under funding of our public school system? The short answer to that is that there is no one group of people to blame here. Many of our citizens treat public education as free day care for their kids, not really caring the extent at which they are educated as long as they are being taken care of. As a whole, the citizens of this state feel over taxed and don't have any desire whatsoever to pump more of their paychecks into anything, much less education.

Lawmakers in Columbia have wastefully spent money in areas not as important as education all the while demanding that our school system improve. And, contrary to what many conservative lawmakers would have you believe, the educational system in this state is not going to get better without money invested. That is a tried and true fact that can relate directly to business and industry.

So, in a way, we are all to blame. Some greater than others, but no citizen of this state can completely wash their hands clean of this problem.

#5-Athletics
The role of athletics in the education of our youth places a secondary role at most. In a utopian society, one could envision a state that properly educates every one of its citizens with little or no regard for athletics. College athletics does not, and should not, be a driving force in wanting to improve our educational system.

That being said, the numbers of potential student athletes that are never going to enroll or play college sports because they lack an education could potentially be staggering. Some have suggested that potentially 10,000 students in this state per year are not getting the education they need to attend post secondary schools. Considering the fact that approximately 5% of the general school population has the potential to play athletics in college, and as many as 50 athletes per year are not enrolling in college even though they have the physical gifts to be a student athlete. In this state, 50 kids per year is an enormous about of potential student athletes.

The questions of this case almost seem larger than any court can consume and disseminate, as there are multiple facets making a clear right or wrong answer hard to find. In addition, this case will most likely end with the courts having to make their decision by the grey areas surrounding the case.

Determining if the students in these rural districts are indeed getting minimally adequate educations will no doubt be the driving force of the decision. Regardless of the outcome, this case will have a profound impact on the future of funding for school districts in this state and nationwide. A ruling for the suing school districts will force the state legislature to completely restructure their funding plans and focus more money on poorer and more rural districts. Considering the "balloon effect", the additional funding for the rural districts may siphon money out of the more wealthy districts to cover the cost. A ruling for the state will almost certainly mean there will be no relief in funding for the rural districts. Without a legal stand, those districts will be forced to minimally educate their children with the resources they currently have. All eyes are fixed closely on this case with the realization that the implications are serious in the outcome.

CUTigers.com Top Stories