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Magnets? April 11, 2008

Filed under: Education — Ms.M @ 12:33 am

Visited one of the magnet schools. With the whole Sheff vs. O’Neill desegregation case going on for what seems like forever, magnets have been sprouting up around the state like weeds. And most of them have been doing well, in the sense that students at magnets seem to be outperforming students in what are considered the urban districts (on statewide testing). But here’s the thing that I still don’t get. You build a magnet school, with the hopes of eliminating racial segregation in schools, right?. You’re trying to attract students from affluent, largely white, school districts to this special school. You create this incredible theme, and programs, not found in any of the other local districts, and that’s wonderful. But then you build it in the most segregated of the surrounding “suburban” communities in terms of minority population, and you allow admission to only towns with a large minority population. What have you resolved? The school population is still over 75 percent minority, and therefore still segregated.

I agree with the premise of magnet schools. I think the themes they come up with are great, although sometimes I think they sound better than they actually are, but I don’t see this particular magnet as doing much in the way of ending segregation. It’s almost as if they’ve already said, well, we’re not going to actually get the affluent white parents to buy into this idea, so we’ll consider ourselves lucky enough if we get some of the middle class african american and hispanic parents to buy in and just enough of a racial mix so it looks like we’re going somewhere.

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