Skip to Content

Minimally Adequate?

A judge says South Carolina’s rural schools meet the constitutional requirement. Student photographers prove him wrong.

By Alain Jehlen

Sagging ceilings covered with plastic sheeting. Computer labs full of broken equipment. Chipped and cracked toilets, and holes in the walls. They all raise the question: What’s “minimally adequate” for educating South Carolina’s children? The state’s Supreme Court has ruled that the constitution mandates a “minimally adequate” education. Forty districts have sued, saying the state’s school funding system doesn’t pass muster.

In late 2005, Judge Thomas Cooper ruled against them, but the plaintiffs plan to appeal. A documentary, Corridor of Shame, supports the plaintiffs’ case, and the producers organized a legion of student photographers to depict what’s at stake for South Carolina’s poor, rural counties. Their pictures, along with the film, were used to create an eye-opening exhibit that’s now touring the state.

South Carolina isn’t alone—similar lawsuits have been decided or are pending in other states. For more on the case and the student project, visit

Published in:

Published In