One size does not fit all. South Carolina enjoys a wide range of educational choices.

One of the things we all love about South Carolina is the diversity we enjoy. We have families and individuals from all across the country and around the world contributing their unique perspective. On top of that we each bring our own individuality and interests, and these differences help make South Carolina great. These differences are why we at Palmetto Family advocate for a diverse palette of educational options to best meet the interests, strengths and goals of students. One size does not fit all. Currently, South Carolina enjoys a wide range of educational choices and here is a list of what we offer:

Public Schools

Public Schools: Neighborhood. This is the public school to which a child is assigned based on where he or she lives. The State Constitution guarantees a “system of free public schools” and this choice is by default the most popular in South Carolina.

Public Schools: Special Permission. Some public school districts hold lotteries for open slots in schools other than the one to which a child is assigned, or allow students to cross attendance boundaries freely. This allows students to remain in the public school system but attend a school that is a better fit for them.

Public Schools: Magnet. A growing group of schools are being designated Magnet Schools or have magnet programs within their walls in addition to a regular school. The “magnet” is the attraction of certain specialties in the school like STEM or fine arts. Because of high demand, Magnets often have lotteries as well.

Public Schools: Charter. Charter Schools are public schools that are run by a contract or a “charter.” The board of the Charter receives public funding and general oversight from the Public Charter School District of South Carolina or the local school district, but the board has wide latitude on how it runs the institution. Charters can also specialize in certain academic subjects, teaching methods or themes. Again, to be admitted to a Charter, a lottery is often required.

Public Schools: Governor’s. South Carolina has two Governor’s Schools: The Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics in Hartsville and the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Both have residential and summer programs.

Public Schools: Online. VirtualSC is the online public virtual school and offers a limited variety of courses.

Public Schools: Online Charter. There are several online charter schools as well. These are public and charter but offer an online curriculum based on the unique approach of that virtual charter.

Private Schools

Private Schools: Christian Fundamentalist or Jewish Orthodox. South Carolina has a number of schools that have a faith orientation. Many of them are very conservative in that they have a strict conduct code and seek to educate children in a very specific worldview.

Private Schools: Christian Mainline/Evangelical or Jewish Reform/Conservative. Other religious schools are less conservative in their conduct codes and teach a more diverse curriculum in the spiritual arena. The level of encouragement of diverse theological opinions can vary from school to school.

Private Schools: Catholic. Catholic schools have been a part of education in America since the nation’s founding and the number of schools affiliated with the Bishop of Charleston are growing. Catholic schools tend to be similar to one another in basic curriculum, though every school has its own distinctives.

Private Schools: Muslim or other faiths. South Carolina is home to a number of schools whose purpose is to teach Islam or another non-Christian religion as a part of the curriculum.

Private Schools: Secular or Nominally Religious. There is a group of private schools, known as “prep schools” that have a less definite religious agenda or none at all.

Private Schools: Online. There are private schools that charge tuition and teach online only.

Home School

Home School with Public School Accountability [Called Option 1]. Like option #6 (Public Schools: Online) education is home-based, but the curriculum is not provided by the public school. The educator (usually a parent) provides progress reports and other verification as requested by the public school.

Home School with S.C.A.I.H.S Accountability [Called Option 2]. Students are educated at home with accountability provided by the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools.

Home School with Another Accountability Organization [Called Option 3]. Students are educated at home with accountability provided by a state approved accountability group other than a public school or S.C.A.I.H.S..

Note: Home Schooling can employ a variety of educational options including traditional instruction, attendance in public and private school classes, online and distance learning, and co-op and resource center classes. Learn all about how to home school legally in South Carolina here!

Special Needs

Special Needs 1. This is a school that exists specifically to meet the needs of exceptional needs students with documented disabilities only.

Special Needs 2. This is a school with a specially designed program or learning resource center to provide accommodations based on the needs of exceptional needs students.

Special Needs 3. This is a school with no specific special education services provided but strives to make needed accommodations for exceptional needs students who struggle in academic areas.

That’s a lot of options for Palmetto State parents and students! For over 20 years Palmetto Family has been working to make this kind of educational choice a reality so that parents’ values and goals are better honored, and students’ better reach their full potential.

Find the perfect school for your student with just a few clicks here!

Dr. Oran Smith

Former President & CEO


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