Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Magnet Schools...What Are They and Are They Good For Us?
What is a magnet school? That question came up in a nearby community in our state recently. And the stuff hit the fan. The big deal was that some folks did not want such things for their elementary school age children. Others were very much for this since this type of school focuses on particular curriculm rather than just cover the standard "readin, writin and rithmetic". So, I went looking to answer the question of what a magnet school is and a few more. Here is what I found:
1) A magnet school is one which functions in the traditional school setting, but with an emphasis on a few target areas of instruction to best prepare students for the future. South Beaver Elementary School
2)A magnet school is a school or education center that offers a special curriculum capable of attracting substantial numbers of students of different racial backgrounds. Magnet schools were conceptualized as one response to remedy racial segregation in school enrollment. As a desegregation strategy, magnet schools allow for the reassignment of children or faculty to reduce, eliminate or prevent minority group isolation in one or more K-12 schools of a local education agency. Magnet Schools Definition
I guess the problem I have with this second definition is the idea of setting up a school system that is there strictly for the purpose of desegregating schools. However, the second definition, while likely true to an extent, is not what I have found them, or at least one of the magnet schools, to be. Therefore, the first definition, granted it was for a specific school but relevant nevertheless, is the one that satisfies what I know to be true.
Since I live in Arkansas, I tried to discover what, if anything, was so special about a magnet school. I also wanted to know if such a school existed in our state. Frankly, I had only to look in my own family to find the answer. A member of our family attends a magnet school, an especially fantastic school at that. It is amazing in it's approach to teaching, incredible in it's skill in graduating superior students that go on to places like MIT. The last school year, 2005-2006 graduated 112 students (they usually house up to 150 students, junior and senior high). The grants and scholarships totaled some $10.2 million. That's 112 students that took home an average of $850,000 EACH. Did you see that? Now I call that a valuable school indeed.
Now, I cannot tell you what other magnet schools are like but I can tell you that this particular school is scholastically far above the national average. It is a very tough school to graduate from but the rewards are incredible. The classes are college level, sometimes beyond what is taught in a normal college. Certainly, it is far above most high schools.
So, what is the value of such a school? Friend, it's our future and it's about time we found a way to build more such schools because if we do not, our country will fall even farther behind than we are now. So yes, I am for magnet schools, at least that are like this one.
That's all for now from What's Right With This Picture?