Until the late 19th century, well-to-do South Carolinians generally hired tutors to instruct their children or sent them to private academies. Still wealthier residents often sent their children abroad to be educated. During the same period, ministers, missionaries, and traveling schoolmasters played major roles in the spread of education among the less privileged classes, especially in rural areas. In 1710 and 1712 the colonial assembly passed laws providing for the education of a few needy pupils at public expense. Educational aid for the poor was also provided by a number of charitable groups. South Carolina’s first school for blacks was opened in 1740. Laws providing for an extensive program of public education were passed in 1811, but the schools that were subsequently established received inadequate support and were attended only by the needy. Attempts at public education ceased during the Civil War.
In 1868 the constitution drawn up by the state’s Reconstruction government provided for an excellent educational system. Little was done to put the system into effect until 1876. The constitution of 1895 provided more generous financial support but also legalized separate education for whites and blacks, a system already practiced. Thereafter schools gradually improved, but the bulk of the funds were spent on the white schools. Advances made in the 20th century include direct state financing and supervision of local schools; consolidation of rural school districts; and programs to abolish illiteracy and educate adults. Compulsory school attendance was first introduced in 1937. It was abolished in 1955 to avert the prospect of racial integration in the schools but was reinstituted in 1967.
Despite the 1954 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional, and even though the Summerton School District (now known as the Clarendon County School District) was one of the systems incorporated into the Supreme Court decision, South Carolina did not begin to desegregate its schools until 1963. School attendance is compulsory for children aged 5 to 17, although parents may waive attendance of all-day kindergarten for 5 year olds. Of the state’s children, 8 percent attend private schools. In the 2004–2005 school year South Carolina spent $8,841 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 14.1 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.5 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2007, 82.1 percent had a high school diploma, while the country as a whole averaged 84.5 percent. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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