As I attended the magnet fair recently put on by my school district I was surprised by the difference in the quality of education that each of the schools seemed to offer. Some of the programs seemed put together just so that the school could say that it was a magnet school, and attract unwitting parents to the school. The school district I am in uses magnet schools to attract students to inner city schools to help boost test scores and parental involvement.
I taught school for a short time, and so I was surprised when one school’s main attraction was that it took the time to cross coordinate the subjects taught. It meant that you might count during P.E. or do an art project related to the history subject you were currently studying. This is something that a good teacher and school should be doing anyway. As a middle school teacher I worked with other teachers to have the projects cross subject areas.
Another magnet that surprised me was the museum magnet. This school focused on the way that the students learn through attending museums. There were numerous field trips planned. It also had students create displays for the school. This is an interesting way to learn, and should be utilized on a regular basis, but I worried about all the trips to the museums. My children already visit the museums in our area on a regular basis. I do not know that they will gain a lot by attending there.
Another school that surprised me was the school, which was centered on technology. This school seemed appealing to my husband on paper, but as we talked to the school representatives we failed to find the benefits of technology that the school seemed to advertise. On closer examination it seemed nothing more than a little extra time on the computer every day.
The leadership school seemed interesting to me, but it really did not appeal to my husband. The leadership schools focused on goal setting. It also had the students do self-assessment for their grades. I have seen times when this has really worked for the benefit of the students, but I have also seen this backfire.
The schools we ended up applying for were the ones that offered a wide variety of extra subjects or specials for the children to choose from. The classes ranged widely from dance classes and art classes to advanced math and art classes. There were also extra language arts classes offered as well. The wide variety of subjects offered helped us to feel that we were not limiting what our daughter might excel at, as she grows older.
As you look at magnet schools you need to make sure that your child’s needs are being met. You should talk to other parents and make sure that the schools are really doing everything that they are promising. In some cases the programs offered might actually be getting in the way of academic success. It is a decision that you will need to consider carefully.