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Essay/Term paper: Do magnet schools work?

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Education

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Do Magnet Schools Actually Work?

The 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, represented a turning point in the history of the United States. (144) Reversing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which said that racially "separate but equal" public institutions were legal, the court held that segregated public schools were "inherently unequal" and denied black children equal protection under the law. It later directed that the state provide desegregated educational facilities "with all deliberate speed." Kansas had been only one of many states that had "separate but equal" schools that were affected by the decision. Although Southern white officials sought to obstruct implementation of the Brown decision, many blacks saw the ruling as a sign that the federal government might intervene on their behalf in other racial matters.

The court ruled that the schools would have to come up with a solution to the problem of desegregating the schools. Special schools called "Magnet Schools" were set up. These schools were designed as a desegregation method. There were three methods used in the desegregation of the schools. Black students were bussed out to the suburbs to attend white schools, white children were bussed into the city to attend black schools, or both races were mixed in different schools. There are two types of magnet

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schools. The full site school is where all students in a particular district transfer into the school and are mixed together in the magnet program. Partial site programs offer a special magnet program within a "non-magnet" general school, even though students still transfer into the school to participate in the magnet curriculum. The focus of these schools is to achieve racial balance and increase educational quality. (146)

Some of the problems with magnet schools were that they would "siphon" off the better students from a school district, leaving all the educationally at-risk students. (147) Most of these students that were left behind were members of a minority group such as Black or Hispanic. Another problem with magnet schools is that they might already be aimed at middle class families. This is done to try to avoid desegregation by some parents so their children will not have to go to school with members of a minority.

Removing students from a given school district also removes resources from students most in need from this interaction. Is this the best possible solution? Other problems are that magnet schools are not generally instituted as a major solution for the problems of at risk students, who are most in of any school reform initiatives, and even in partial site situations, segregation continues within the walls of the school, especially in classrooms.

In the article "Do Magnet School Programs Meet the Goals of Desegregation?" by William Sakamoto White, White tells a story of the United States schools trying to end segregation in public schools. The author tries to make his decision whether or not

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these schools actually work. White is leaning more towards the deletion of magnet schools because he says that they actually segregate schools instead of desegregating them. Although White makes a good point in his argument, he has nothing to prove his theory. In the article, there are no statistics, charts, or graphs of any kind to hold up his side of the story. There are also no facts presented by professionals or specialists. The author has made a statement that he cannot back up. If this statement were to be made by a reputable source such as a teacher or school administrator, then the statement may be a valid one. But since the author has no credibility towards the subject, the statement is rendered invalid.

The author also uses many omissions in his report. He talks about how the "better" students from a school district are placed into to magnet schools.(147) What happens to the "bad" students? What happens to their education now that their resources from this interaction have been removed? Other important information that was left out of the article were the final reports of how the magnet schools actually did in the bringing together of black and white students. White never talks of how well the magnet schools desegregated schools.

The author is also guilty of using many ambiguous terms. Terms such as "good" and "bad" kids do not tell the reader who is being separated. Is a "good" student one that doesn"t get into trouble and does what he or she is told, or is a "good" student one that has at least a 3.0 GPA? What is White"s limit to being able to call a child good or bad? How did he get this limit? The term "Quality Education" is also used many times in the article. What constitutes an education to be a quality one? Is a quality education

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one that the student remembers everything that is taught to them, or is it where the teachers care a great deal and act like parental figures to the students? This use of ambiguous terms takes away from the article because the reader can never tell where a subject may end and another subject starts. Although the author makes his article sound suspicious because of all of these wrong things, he has many good points to his story.

White does a good job explaining the different types of magnet schools. He tells of the three different types, and why they are different. White did his research when he wrote this article. He touched on the subjects of social neglect, parenting and poverty. These subjects are required in this argument because they directly affect the subject. White also does a good job of explaining what is wrong with magnet schools. He says that the problem is that the magnet schools actually segregate schools instead of desegregating them. His statement, although not backed up by and form of research, does sound valid. He states that there is a problem in our public school system and that we can fix it by having short-term segregation. This will enable the students that are being left behind a chance to catch up and develop a quality education. (148)

Overall, White did a good job of informing the reader what the states were trying to do to end segregation, but his argument quickly diffused when he talked about his own views, and not those views of educated experts. In conclusion the article was informing about the subject, but it was not interesting or appealing to his audience.


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