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Magnet schools: How to navigate one of L.A.’s most complex mazes

The Los Angeles Times – Sonali Kohli

“The stakes are high for families across Los Angeles later this fall. Applications are being accepted for a spot in one of 210 magnet programs in L.A. public schools; the deadline is Nov. 13. For some parents, getting in is the difference between staying in public schools and choosing a private or charter option. “I just really want to know … the whole process, step by step,” said mother Latisha Lewis. She attended a recent magnet school fair at Baldwin Hills Elementary School with her 10-year-old daughter, Kyera Parker, who currently attends a charter. Choosing and applying to magnet schools can be confusing. We spoke to experts and parents to find out about L.A. Unified’s magnet schools. They are listed at the bottom of this post.”(more)

Waiting to specialize means more career options

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

According to Education Week, the US graduation rate is less than 70% and the Florida graduation rate is only about 57%. With this type of graduation data it is not surprising that policy makers are desperate to find ways to encourage more children to finish high school.

 

Over the past 30 years, many concepts have been tried. One tactic has been to encourage early specialization. There are magnet schools for elementary school children and highly specialized high school programs that prepare kids for certain fields. The thought is that more children could be encouraged to stay in school and graduate if they are studying something they enjoy.

 

In magnet schools, for example, parents can now choose performing arts, science, athletics and other specialized areas. Although courses in other subjects are offered, the majority of the focus is on the specialization.

 

Early specialization is common in Latin America, Europe and in some parts of Asia. By ninth grade, children in many countries are put into a track — science and math, business, social sciences or trade.

 

At first glance, this approach seems like the perfect way to solve many problems with US education. However, there are challenges. By the time young people are 18, many have limited career choices based on decisions made before or shortly after they entered high school.

 

At 13, 14 and 15, children are still developing and changing. As a result, this is a bad time to ask a young person to make a decision that will impact the rest of his/her life. For example, someone who is passionate about art at 14 may decide at 18 he or she wants to become an architect. This area of study requires not only artistic abilities, but also strong math and science skills. It is equally tragic for a person who loves science and math to fail to develop the artistic part of his/her brain. The best engineers and scientists are those who can find creative ways to solve problems and can communicate in eloquent, visual ways.

 

If children are to reach their dreams, career decisions should be delayed until they are old enough to make good choices. As a result, it is critical that policy makers and educators find ways to engage young people so they can develop strong science, math, language arts, creativity and history skills. This will mean happier young people and a better-educated, more productive society.

 

School Choice Report Highlights Parent Experience

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A new report released by the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) suggests that education reform efforts should focus on parental experiences in addition to those of their children. This suggestion is especially true when it comes to school choice, writes Eric Schulzke for Deseret News. According to Michael DeArmond, a research analyst at CRPE based at the University of Washington in Seattle, parents today have many more options than they have had in the past, including charters, magnets, traditional neighborhood schools and the possibility for vouchers to attend private schools.”(more)

School Ditches Factory “Assembly Line”

New Haven Independent – Melissa Bailey

“The radical restructuring is taking place as the Water Street magnet school becomes a “turnaround”—a school with special permission to reconstitute its staff, extend the school day, and overhaul the school rules in order to lift lagging student performance.”(more)

Magnets Reimagined as School Choice Option

Education Week – Nora Fleming

“Once considered a solution to desegregate racially divided districts, magnet schools today have been forced to evolve, given legal barriers that bar using race to determine school enrollment and increasing pressure to provide more public school choices.”(more)

New school year: Emphasis on choice, health, technology

The Miami Herald – Laura Isensee

“The Miami-Dade school district has turned to some unlikely partners as it tries to further revamp itself. “The one-size fits all model of education is broken and we can no longer follow it,” Carvalho said. He added the district needs to tailor programs to students’ needs and interests. To that end, the district is launching 18 new magnets and academies this year.” (more)