One of our SCORS regulars, Dr. Thelma Sojourner, said something at a SCORS meeting that really struck us all in the gut. For ten years, we have been referring to the “Corridor of Shame.” Those were districts from North Carolina to Georgia that hugged route 95. The nomenclature was a euphemism of the Abbeville Equity Suit. It was the name of the documentary produced in 2007 with that same name.
The suit was settled by the Supreme Court in 2014, a full 22 years since it was started. Many of the school superintendents who entered the case as plaintiffs are no longer in their positions. I believe that four supers are still in that position.
Although there has been some amelioration attempted by the legislature just recently, resource starved school districts have not been availed of what they need. One of regular attendees has suggested that we not label ourselves as poor, rural and minority. He believes that we should develop our own plans and legislation and lobby for them.
Along with Dr. Sojourner’s statement about eliminating the term Corridor of Shame, these are valid suggestions. We don’t want people to feel sorry for us. We would like them to stand up and support our endeavors to end the inequitable funding system and eliminate our need to speak about the zip code divisions.
Being a school superintendent these days is a very difficult task. I know that I am preaching to the choir. Over the last 2 years there have been situations that have led to the chief school administrator’s removal or resignation from the job. This does not speak well for stability for districts that need stability in the central office to achieve long term goals.
As SCORS travels around the state, we see in districts with a stable base, that things seem to improve both educationally and community wise. In a number of cases, especially in rural school districts, the largest employer is the school district. When there is harmony there, lots of other things flourish. When there is chaos, it affects the entire community and makes for hesitancy for folks to move in and settle there.
Where there is stability, there is growth. There is also hope for the future. Instability breeds cynicism and depression about the future. I am hesitant to say that I once wrote a monograph about rural places with a lack of hope. It was called There are no Subways in Lickingville. Sometimes entire communities suffer from depressive episodes. School districts, school children, school employees can bring sunshine into the life of the community. If you don’t believe that one, take a ride with us to the rural school districts in South Carolina.
We will travel through the Corridor of Hope.