US Education Secretary DeVos applauds SC school improvement

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, seated, tours a technical college in Florence, S.C., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, with state Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, left, and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, right. DeVos made a trip to the state to visit an area once known as the “Corridor of Shame” where officials say dramatic improvements have been made in schools since state officials took over their control last year. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

The nation’s top education official says she’s impressed with developments in what was once one of South Carolina’s most underperforming school districts.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke Thursday after touring schools in a district that’s one of several dozen along Interstate 95 bestowed with the nickname “Corridor of Shame” because of their substandard schools.

DeVos said she was encouraged to see improvements like a more diverse curriculum that have come since last year, when state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman declared a state of emergency in Florence School District Four and took over its management. By sharing some services with neighboring districts, state officials say they’ve saved more than $600,000 in the struggling district’s budget.

The visit comes amid ongoing debate on how to improve South Carolina’s education system.