Jay Lucas: too many cooks in the kitchen in SC education

Danny Johnson and North Industrial Machine received the 2017 Jimmy Newsom Signature Award from the Darlington County School District.
Photos by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently dismissed the Abbeville school funding lawsuit, reversing the court’s 2014 decision. During the annual Darlington County School District Education Forum, held Dec. 8, Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives Jay Lucas said that he feels the court made the right decision. He also said that legislators would continue to fight for South Carolina’s students to receive a great education.

Lucas was part of a panel discussion between state and local leaders who answered five questions relating to all areas of education. Others serving on the panel were Dr. Rainey Knight, former DCSD superintendent, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, acting DCSD Superintendent Bill Boyd, Senator Gerald Malloy, Representative Robert Williams, Representative Terry Alexander and DCSD Board chairman Jamie Morphis.

Molly Spearman, South Carolina Superintendent of Education.

Lucas said that the initial decision set a constitional definition that did not exist before.

“The first decision simply said a couple of things,” Lucas said. “It dealt with 4K education and it established the term ‘minimally adequate education’ as the constitutional standard in this state; that is not in our constitution, it is a made up term by the court. I don’t know how many of you ascribe to a minimally adequate anything but around our household, minimally adequate is not adequate at all. What we did in the House is took a position that minimally adequate didn’t mean anything. We want to provide a 21st Century education to every student in South Carolina.”

Lucas said that the second lawsuit decision said that the state did not meet the standards set up in the first ruling.

“Abbeville II, the second decision, came out and it essentially said that we were not meeting the constitutional standard of minimally adequate education,” Lucas said. “That was a blockbuster decision. The governor didn’t want to do a lot with that decision… The Senate formed a committee made of eight senators; I don’t think a committee of eight senators can address the problem.”

Lucas said that the House responded to the court decision by forming their own panel to include lawmakers but also educators like Dr. Rainey Knight and Molly Spearman.

Jay Lucas, Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Lucas said that the House of Representatives appointed the panel, including several member of the group suing the state in the Abbeville suits, to come up with a plan to create a 21st Century Education. He said that several pieces of legislation have come from that panel and all but one have passed. He also said that people across the state need to come to a consensus, instead of forming multiple plans of action when it comes to education.

“The problems we’ve had with education in South Carolina is because we’ve had too many cooks in the kitchen,” Lucas said.

Senator Malloy said that the court’s decision reversal came about after an election cycle.

“I would say, simply put, that elections have consequences,” Malloy said. “What we did over in the general assembly last year, we changed the composition of the Supreme Court; we had a new person elected. Obviously after 20 some odd years, the case is reversed. Obviously it took too long to bring it up and it didn’t last very long but there is work that is being done.”

Other questions included touching on topics such as teacher pay, the national teacher shortage and standardized testing. Look for other stories in upcoming issues of the News and Press for panelists’ answers on these topics.

Before the panel discussion kicked off, North Industrial Machine received the Jimmy Newsom Signature Award in appreciation for all of their work providing apprenticeships to DCIT students as well as providing expertise and financial assistant in purchasing tooling equipment for machine tool classes so that students can get hands-on learning experience.

Author: Duane Childers

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