Friday, August 25, 2017

Magnet Schools vs Neighborhood Schools

Five years ago, I blogged about magnet schools — their purpose and their effect. I think it holds up well, in that I had questions about the purpose and effect of magnet schools in Richardson that I couldn't answer then and I still can't answer today. I don't believe there has been adequate public discussion. It's time.

Overheard on Facebook this week (names withheld):
For all the talk RISD does about 'neighborhood schools' they focus disproportionate energies on 'magnet' schools - which systematically gut the neighborhood elementary schools of resources and families who are needed for investment in those respective schools. Every administrator on Greenville knows this to be true. There was a time in RISD during population downturns and school closures that magnets allowed for strategic shifting of student populations. Nowadays with ample population everywhere, we actually add to Magnets and further exacerbate the damage and segregation. It is time to close the elementary magnets and re-bond our neighborhoods around the cause of their local neighborhood schools.
Source: Facebook.
We chose a magnet school initially to escape what we believed to be a very segregated neighborhood school. It was a great solution to our problem. One of the many benefits, aside from the diversity, is parent involvement. Since everyone has specifically chosen that school for their kid instead of defaulted into it, there's a lot of school spirit and support. And I would add there's a lot of school spirit and support *despite* the wide socio-economic differences among students.
Source: Facebook.
There you have it. There's passion on both sides: magnet schools and neighborhood schools. It's been said about the Palestinian conflict that it's so hard to solve because it's a case of right versus right. I sometimes feel the same thing applies to issues with public schools. And it's my sad lot to feel everyone's pain. I don't have any magic solutions that will please everyone. The circle can't be squared. But I feel strongly in the need to keep the lines of communication open.

No comments: