What Is a Magnet School?
If you’re not familiar with magnet schools, they are public schools that attract students and provide them with a specialized curriculum and educational environment. The term originates from an iron or steel particle drawn to a magnet: the school attracts students due to its focus on a particular subject area. A typical magnet school will have selective admission criteria, such as an entrance exam, academic records of past performance, socioeconomic status of the student’s home address,
History of magnet schools
The history of magnet schools in the United States dates to the late 1950s and early 1960s when city leaders began searching for new education methods. The following criteria defined these schools: a specific academic focus, a variety of people on staff, teachers who were specialists in their bases, and students who received substantial personal attention.
In many instances, the decision to create magnet schools was based more on politics than educational theory. Many leaders wanted to present themselves as urban reformers or be cutting-edge thinkers and create educational environments that benefit low-income students. These schools were also often designed to make a political statement. For example, in 1969, the Los Angeles school board voted to create the Ethel M. Burke Magnet High School, which only admitted white students.
However, one of the most significant developments in magnet schools was the creation of Project One by New York city’s school board in 1967. This project created neighborhood schools that were not based on racial segregation but instead on neighborhood demographics. The purpose of this project was to maintain integration among schools through zoning and magnet schools.
What are magnet schools today?
Although magnet schools vary among different groups, some scientists argue that magnet schools serve only to resegregate students in public schools. Magnet schools face criticism for their level of academic rigor, the small number of students they admit, and the notion that they detract from neighborhood school integration efforts. However, many support the idea of magnet schools because these programs allow parents to select which schoolwork is best for their children.
Advantages of magnets schools
In some ways, magnet schools are the opposite of the traditional public-school model. Magnet Schools strive to draw students from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities into a smaller learning environment. This small setting allows teachers to get to know their students. The result is that these schools offer more support for kids who might otherwise fall through the cracks at a larger school.
The small class sizes also mean that teachers can act as counselors for their students, helping them with outside school issues such as social problems, peer pressure, family disputes, etc.
Disadvantages of magnet schools
They tend to be expensive. One study showed that magnet schools were, on average, more costly than regular public schools, but this is mainly due to the infrastructure of the school facilities. In general, some magnet schools can cost up to 30 percent more to operate than a smaller traditional school.
Whether you support magnet schools or not, it is essential to remember that magnet schools are NOT for everyone. Magnet schools intend to create a unique atmosphere for students who are not good at communicating but excel in the subjects they love.