At this point, most 18 year olds would be coasting through their last weeks in high school.
But Casey Edwards is taking Governor Mark Sanford all the way to the state Supreme Court over the governor’s refusal to accept federal stimulus money – some $700 million in aid for South Carolina’s schools.
“The fact that we’re going to turn down money when we desperately need it, really bothered me,” Edwards said.
Over the past year, Edwards and her friends have been working to improve impoverished schools along South Carolina’s I-95 – a stretch of rural districts known as the Corridor of Shame, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.
Bud Ferillo made a documentary about the issue, “Corridor of Shame: The Neglect of South Carolina’s Rural Schools.”
“The school systems are suffering deeply, some of those schools are a hundred years old, or more,” Ferillo said.
Edwards was inspired by this documentary to raise money for East Elementary in Dillon, one of the neediest districts in the state, where 93 percent of the kids live below the poverty line.
“She raised 10 grand, took it over to that school two hours from here and gave it to them for Christmas,” Ferillo said.
“It was like an answer to a prayer,” said Bobbie Walters, the principal of East Elementary.
The school used the money to purchase a copier, an important piece of equipment to a school that can’t afford new books.
“We use the copier to do all of our work sheets, letters to parents, tests, quizzes just about everything that we do,” Waters said.
Other schools featured in the documentary are in even worse shape.
“I saw classrooms that are unsafe, that are unhealthy, sewage backing up in hallways, crumbling paint, ceilings that were falling in,” Ferillo said.
That’s why Edwards is challenging the governor, a fiscal conservative, who says he would accept the federal stimulus money, only if the legislature used it to pay down state debt.
In a statement, the governor told CBS News he’s “looking out for school children who will be forced to pay back the so-called stimulus bill.”
It’s an argument Edwards doesn’t buy.
“When the federal government is offering money to our state, I didn’t understand why we were going to turn that down,” Edwards said.
South Carolina’s legislature has voted to accept the money, but the governor is expected to veto the bill.
“If the governor turns down the request for money for education, I will take this case back to the Supreme Court,” Edwards said.
The governor has until midnight Tuesday to decide.