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In case you haven’t noticed, this website has been doing its best in recent weeks to promote academic success stories in South Carolina.

Wait … what? There are academic success stories in South Carolina (home of the absolute worst government-run school system in America)?

Yes … you just have to look outside of that broken taxpayer-subsidized system.

For example we recently profiled The Barclay School – an innovative special needs facility in North Columbia, S.C. that is serving children the government-run system is simply unable to help. Coming later this week we’ll have a report on another special needs school we visited in Greenville, S.C.

Two dramatically different but equally inspiring atmospheres …

Our efforts are paying off, too …

After our story on Barclay, a pair of state lawmakers – one Democrat, the other Republican – paid visits to the school in an effort to gain a better appreciation of its offerings. That’s nice to see considering the S.C. General Assembly recently approved South Carolina’s first-ever parental choice program – a modest tax credit targeting special needs children.

It’s also important when you consider lawmakers are debating parental choice again in 2014.

This week S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington) – a staunch supporter of expanded academic freedom in South Carolina – paid a visit to Glenforest School, one of the many individualized learning centers in this state that’s actually meeting the needs of students (as opposed to trapping them inside “one size fits all” academic prisons).

The mission of Glenforest is simple: “To provide an outstanding education to those who have not thrived in a traditional learning environment.”

Founded in 1983, this West Columbia, S.C. institution is a family-based, community-backed academic center serving K-12 students with special needs – kids its founders say have “fallen through the cracks’ of the public school system.”

Glenforest has grown from four students at its inception to more than fifty students today.

“This was a great opportunity to see and hear about the work being done for our special needs children,” Shealy told FITS. “The students here are ones who do not necessarily ‘fit’ your public school mold. They need the special attention that Glenforest has to offer.”

Shealy also disputed the contention that supporting choice means weakening government-run schools.

“By supporting schools like Glenforest we are not taking away from our public schools,” she said. “This is about educating children with the best tools that fit their needs, not the needs of any one system.”

And in case you’re keeping score at home, South Carolina’s government-run schools aren’t exactly hurting for cash – they’re currently sitting on $1 billion in surplus cash.

Props to Shealy for supporting innovative schools like this one … and look for more examples of these innovative institutions on FITS in the near future.

GLENFOREST SCHOOL