What is a Magnet School?

Learn about magnet schools to determine if they are the right choice for you and your child.

The concept of a magnet school is to segregate students according to zones based on their locations. This means that pupils attend the school which is nearest to their residences. With this approach, schools are established outside of the traditional school boundaries. This particular institution has to come up with something unique which a traditional school does not offer. Magnet schools remain part of the public education system. This is what makes them distinct from private academies. Unlike charter schools, these learning institutions are still part of the bureaucracy and function under the regular administration. However, the manner of instruction is different and more persuasive. It also gets supplementary finances for students, faculty members, supplies, and curriculum.

Background of Magnet Schools

The first magnet school was founded sometime during the late sixties or early seventies. It was a tool conceived to promote academic integration. In other words, the school should attract students from other zones. Hence, it had to extend its enrollment physically across the conventional school zones. Magnet schools also have to make available an experience or atmosphere designed to attract families from other school zones. The initial objective of this system was not to make changes in the method of instructions but to compel students to enroll in other schools as part of the academic unification process. It was also intended to lessen the occurrence of racial isolation.

Objective of Magnet Schools

Said schools are expected to help in promoting diversity within the public education system and help families volunteer for integration. The present task of magnet schools is to prop up academic prospects and excellence as against their counterparts making use of their selection criteria. These schools have three distinctive attributes:

  • Unique program of study or approach in teaching
  • Persuade students from another zone to enroll in the school
  • Maintain diversity as a specific purpose

The magnet school is described as offering special set of courses like performing arts methodology or a combination of mathematics and science. The number of such schools has increased since the federal court has accepted the Magnet program as a mode of desegregation. Right after 1982 and until 1991, more students enrolled in these programs.

Special Curriculum

Magnets offer special curricula, such as math-science or performing arts programs, or special instructional approaches, such as academic achievement through application of Gardner’s learning styles. Magnet schools have developed into an urban phenomenon. The United States Department of Education said more than half of the big urban school districts have instituted Magnet programs as compared to merely 10% in suburban districts. There are Magnet schools in the elementary, middle and high school levels and sporadically coalesce grades in certain classes.

Public schools provide funding for said schools just like other traditional schools. A magnet school spends roughly $200 more per student. Some of these institutions are given state desegregation funds. Federal funding under the Magnet Schools Assistance Program is also available. This specific program extends two-year grants to Magnet programs which are put into action to support desegregation.