You may have heard about J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon County, which was mentioned in President Barack Obama’s recent address to Congress. J.V. Martin is one of the “Corridor of Shame” schools, lying in the predominantly black counties of South Carolina along I-95, schools so shoddy and run down that they have been featured in the national media as an example of the residual effects of slavery and segregation.

Well, J.V. Martin got some good news this week, though it wasn’t from our governor or General Assembly. A Chicago furniture supplier donated new ergonomic cafeteria, band room and classroom furniture to the school after the CEO heard the president’s description of conditions and heard the plea of Ty’Sheoma Bethea, a 14-year-old student at J.V. Martin.

It’s pretty unsettling to realize that this is what it takes to get adequate furniture for one of the state’s poorest schools. I think the word is shame. South Carolina is not providing for the basic needs of its children. Now I know how a parent feels when his child has to go to a Toys for Tots benefit to receive a Christmas toy.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. A group of South Carolinians is signing a petition to demand that the General Assembly offer a constitutional amendment, replacing the state’s “minimally adequate education” with a “high quality education.” That’s right — our state constitution of 1895 specifically mandates a “minimally adequate” system of public education. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

So far, over 50,000 South Carolinians have signed the petition. The goal is one million. If you would like to add your name, go to Any resident of school age or older can sign, so please add your name and pass this petition along to your friends, the members of your family and church, the people in your office.

South Carolina deserves better than a minimally adequate education.

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