Pandemic school funding debate in South Carolina rekindles Jim Crow-era controversy

<span class="caption">Football players from Lee Central High School in Bishopville, South Carolina, share a meal with players from the Robert E. Lee Academy. Lee County in South Carolina is still segregated.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/footballs-players-from-lee-central-high-school-gather-to-news-photo/458152352?adppopup=true" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images">Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images</a></span>
Football players from Lee Central High School in Bishopville, South Carolina, share a meal with players from the Robert E. Lee Academy. Lee County in South Carolina is still segregated. Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images
<span class="caption">Senator Strom Thurmond addresses a classroom in South Carolina, October 20, 1996.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/senator-strom-thurmond-addresses-a-classroom-october-20-news-photo/800757?adppopup=true" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Alan Weiner/Liaison via Getty Images">Alan Weiner/Liaison via Getty Images</a></span>
Senator Strom Thurmond addresses a classroom in South Carolina, October 20, 1996. Alan Weiner/Liaison via Getty Images

As schools across America wrestle with COVID-19, the pandemic has fueled a debate over funding for private and public K-12 schools. In South Carolina, the discussion has revived a bitter chapter from the Jim Crow era while highlighting the ways systemic racism has undermined public education in the state.

This summer Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attempted to direct a large share of the US$13.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief to private schools. DeVos did so by basing funding on schools’ total number of students rather than the number of low-income students.

U.S. District Court judges thwarted

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Catholic body responds to school funding controversy

The debate about equity in Australian education has caused a stir in recent months as a number of reports emerge showing how low-SES students are missing out on critical school funding and educational opportunities.

In April, teachers’ unions were in uproar when it was revealed that private schools were offered the option to apply for their July 2020 recurrent funding payment to be brought forward to May and June 2020.

Three months later, an analysis of ACARA data by Trevor Cobbold from public school advocates Save our Schools Australia caused the boat to rock again when it was revealed that public funding continues to flow disproportionately to private schools.

Last week, the debate into school funding again resurfaced when the ABC reported a story that suggested hundreds of millions in public funding dollars are being diverted from the poorest NSW Catholic primary schools.

The scheme, administered by Catholic school authorities,

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