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South Carolina's public schools, especially its most struggling districts, are failing masses of students who graduate unprepared for college or the workforce. Tony Goodloe, who graduated near the top of his class in Allendale County, is taking remedial classes before he can attend Clemson University full time. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

The project, Minimally Adequate, is the result of an eight-month investigation into South Carolina's troubled education system, which ranks among the nation's worst.

A team of five reporters interviewed more than 200 educators, students, parents, business leaders, politicians and academics to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing South Carolina’s public school system and the historical events that led our state to this point.

Members of the team traveled extensively throughout the Palmetto State to visit school districts large and small. They also reviewed dozens of reports, studies, historical manuscripts and books chronicling the plight of South Carolina schools. And they examined efforts underway here and around the country to address critical issues surrounding education and effect change.

This five-part series is a result of those efforts. 

Minimally Adequate

Why SC's failing education system is no accident of history

Divided by race, mired in inequities and hobbled by its history, South Carolina’s public school system is among the worst in the nation, saddled with a legacy of apathy and low expectations that threatens the state’s newfound prosperity. 

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Hannah Breland is a student at an Orangeburg County magnet program that teaches technical career skills and allows students up to earn credits at a nearby community college. Paul Bowers/Staff

No accident of history

SC schools are still largely segregated, setting black students up for failure

From slavery through Jim Crow to white flight, South Carolina has never prioritized educating black children. Even today, after decades of resisting integration, de facto segregation is prevalent and growing worse.

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One of the nation's most important school segregation lawsuits was born from Scott's Branch school in Summerton, which remains almost all black even today and faces shrinking enrollment. Despite its challenges, the school Army ROTC's mission remains motivating "young people to be better citizens." Wade Spees/Staff

A pipeline of failure

Why SC’s failing education system threatens the state's recent economic growth

Thousands of students pass through South Carolina's struggling school districts each year — and most will leave without the skills required for most jobs in today's economy.

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Shift team leader Ryan Joe monitors his team's work extracting omega-3 from algae from a control room at DSM on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The shift supervisor, Travis Sanders, is in the background. Wade Spees/Staff

Crisis of our own making

Why SC lawmakers have neglected to fix the state's failing education system

Lawmakers insist they are committed to fixing the state’s beleaguered public school system — yet they shortchange even the minimum funding requirements spelled out in state law.

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School buses ferry students home after school in Allendale on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

A call to action

SC's failing school system needs comprehensive reform. Here are 8 places to start.

Repairing South Carolina's schools will take a big-picture approach with comprehensive strategies that challenge the way we approach education.

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Repairing South Carolina's beleaguered public schools will take a big-picture approach with comprehensive strategies that challenge the way we approach education. Lauren Petracca/Staff

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