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Education resolution calls for constitutional amendment changing minimally adequate to high

By Jessica Connor

A resolution going before Annual Conference this month to change the standard of minimally adequate education in this state has been replaced with a similar version.

Submitted by the Advocacy Ministry Area of Conference Connectional Ministries, the resolution merges aspects of the original with a separate resolution submitted by the Rev. John Culp. This way, the conference doesn t have two similar resolutions to consider, which could create confusion, said the Rev. Amiri Hooker, chair of the advocacy area.

Hooker said the differences are that the original resolution addressed rural schools mainly in the poverty-stricken I-95 Corridor of Shame  and didn t specifically call for what Culp s resolution sought, which is a constitutional amendment changing our state standards from minimally adequate  to high quality  education.

The new resolution deals with all schools in the state, rural and urban, and specifically authorizes the Annual Conference to call for passage of an amendment to the state constitution that would mandate South Carolina to offer a high quality education  to all children to replace the current standard of minimally adequate education,  and further urge the General Assembly to fully fund existing education formulas regarding financial support for all public schools.

We still have schools in South Carolina where they don t have air conditioning, kids have to wait one to one and a half hours for a school bus, they have to go the first six or seven weeks of the school year waiting on books,  Hooker said, noting the resolution deals head-on  with rampant educational disparities statewide.

The resolution maintains that since the days of Methodism s founder John Wesley, the denomination has had a commitment to quality education.

We believe that children are a sacred trust and that the church, along with families and the government, are responsible for their well-being, development and education,  the resolution states.

It also states various relevancies, such as how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that educating citizens was the responsibility of the states, how the 1895 Constitution of South Carolina requires only that the state offer its children a system of free public education,  and how in 1998 the S.C. Supreme Court ruled that the word free  should be interpreted to require the state to provide a minimally adequate education for all its children.

The resolution also noted that a case is pending before the S.C. Supreme Court in a suit brought against the state by 36 school districts claiming the state does not provide that minimally adequate education for children in their districts.

If passed, the resolution would have Bishop Jonathan Holston work with the Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children and Poverty Task Force (see article, page x) to develop a strategy to promote the passage of the amendment, as well as appropriations to fully fund existing education formulas; and encourage clergy and laity to contact their legislators to support this amendment.

It also resolves that UMCs in S.C. support public education by establishing partnerships with local public schools; honor teachers work and advocate for appropriate salaries; support efforts to end unjust educational disparities; and advocate for quality preschool education for all children.

As with the other resolutions, the conference will vote on the Resolution on Minimally Adequate Education at Annual Conference, held June 9-12 in Florence. Look for coverage in the next edition of this newspaper.

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