Nearly everyone interviewed by The Post and Courier said improved education is the key to unlocking the chain of disparity that holds South Carolina down. Here is what some of them had to say:

“All problems are inseparable from education. We’ve not been a state that’s invested as much as our neighbors. … Lack of education is an enabler of bad health.”

Raymond S. Greenberg, president of the Medical University of South Carolina

“We have a dysfunctional system. … Everyone knows what an ‘F’ is: That’s a failing school and until we own up to it, we won’t face the emergency. We won’t take it seriously.”

Mick Zais, S.C. Superintendent of Education

“Educated people are less apt to be poor. Educated people are less apt to need health care.”

Bill Stanfield, chief executive officer of Metanoia

“As education goes, so goes tomorrow, and we do not have a public education system that prepares people for the future.”

Alex Sanders, former president of the College of Charleston

“We’ve got some problems with school funding.”

Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina

“We dump tax incentives on business to get them here when we don’t provide what they actually need, an educated population.”

Steve Skardon, executive director of the Palmetto Project

“Some of the worst ideas in American history came out of South Carolina: slavery, nullification, secession, Jim Crow and minimally adequate education.”

Bud Ferillo, producer and director of the documentary “Corridor of Shame”

“Our state will never be number one, until we value every child.”

Rose Wilder, superintendent of Clarendon District 1

“Education is the only thing that is going to move us forward economically. It’s the only thing that will break down generational poverty. We’re ignoring the best resource that we have: our people.”

Donald L. Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute and professor of political science at Furman University

“Education: You can’t transform the system without more equity.”

Fred Carter, president of Francis Marion University

“It doesn’t take an education philosopher to tell you that a sick and hungry child can’t learn.”

Walter Edgar, retired USC history professor, author of “South Carolina, A History”