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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.

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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 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 over $600,000 in the struggling district’s budget.

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

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