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South Carolina Honors College


by Abigail Bailey

I woke up this morning in a bed that belongs to the state of South Carolina. I have for the past month and a half – I will for the next two years.

My hallway is full of broken dreamers. We’ve forfeited our remaining years of innocence, of childhood, in search of an education that actually benefits us. We’re here, in this state-owned hallway with our state-owned beds, and all we want is to learn.

The state of South Carolina prioritizes us because we’ve proven ourselves to be the "smartest" in the state. We attend the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, a public boarding school for juniors and seniors. Here, we’re able to thrive; our creativity is encouraged, not threatened; we have the freedom to ask questions and investigate without being punished for doing more. We are able to be ourselves.

And yet, in all senses except legal, we are wards of the state. South Carolina feeds us, clothes us, houses us, and teaches us. We have adopted it as our new parents in search of a better life, and that betrayal eats away at us every day.

It is a blessing every day to be here. I know that. I acknowledge that. But I also acknowledge all that I’ve sacrificed: my younger sister is growing up without me; my mother is baking pierogies without me; my father is watching NHL preseason games without me. Why should a child have to give their life up just to find an education that will foster their love to learn?

Before getting accepted here, I didn’t attend schools with money to spend on robotics equipment, or a music program, or clubs. I attended the schools that couldn’t always afford substitute teachers, or textbooks, or soap. In South Carolina, passionate learners are turned into curriculum students, and their dreams are turned into standardized test scores. My family moved to South Carolina when I started sixth grade. Since then, I’ve been enrolled in five different schools across four different districts, all with the same address to call home. All I want is to learn something new, for my education to mean more than just my GPA, for my abilities to be allowed to flourish instead of packaged back into those cinder-block walls and forced to remain compliant as my potential is wasted.

I am a dreamer. And my hallway is full of broken dreamers.

Our future is built on the foundations we create today. Our children – our next generation – deserve to be fueled by a love to learn, not corralled into classrooms like lambs on their way to slaughter. We need to focus more on the experience of learning instead of memorization and blind recitation. We need to pay our teachers a livable wage so that they’re willing and able to be the influence we need, instead of being exhausted by morning because they have to moonlight at the local grocery store to make ends meet. We need to create educational environments in which children feel safe and their love of learning is encouraged and fostered, a place where their imaginations mean just as much as their class ranks.

My hallway is full of children who thought they could trust the South Carolina public education system but have now sacrificed everything for the opportunity to find something better. We have found a safe haven here, but what about back home? The boy you used to wave to in the hallway; the girl who always sat next to you in chemistry; the people at your lunch table; the friends you studied with; what happens to them?

My best friend deserves to be here just as much as I do, but we come from different backgrounds and have never had the same opportunities in life. Unfortunately for her, this was mine and not hers. That’s why education in this state needs to be reformed: because every child deserves to have the same opportunities, regardless of where they come from or who they are. Our next Einstein may not come from a school where property tax runs high and community money is available. Students like me, who come from underprivileged and underfunded communities, have just as much of a right to a quality education as our middle-class and upper-class peers. No student should be unable to pursue the things they love because of a budget.

This is my story. Education reform is the hill I will die on because it will not be my children’s story.

Abigail Bailey

About Abigail Bailey

Abigail Bailey of Goose Creek is a junior at the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. Under the guidance of her English teacher, Dr. Matt Martin, and with the support of her parents, Bruce and Sarah Bailey, Abigail has developed her writing skills. Undecided about her future studies, she is considering a path within transportation logistics and distribution. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.