Magnet School Case Study

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Magnet schools are schools of choice that are part of the public school system. They were created for the purpose of reversing the de facto segregation that was happening in urban schools in the 1970s. The school and curriculum is often built around a theme. That theme may be a subject area like STEM or the arts or an emphasis on an educational program like the International Baccalaureate curriculum or the Advance Placement program. Magnet schools have no geographic boundaries for enrollment, and the school theme is supposed to encourage white suburban families to voluntarily enroll their children in an urban school that is farther from home because of the unique educational opportunity the magnet school presents1.
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The court decided in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education that busing was an appropriate solution to this de facto segregation. So, public schools in urban areas who were suffering from the white-flight phenomenon where white families where moving out of the city and into suburban areas attempted to force integration through mandatory busing of students across districts. The school system felt a lot of opposition to this approach and there was a push toward voluntary integration of the public school system5. To do that, schools had to be an attractive option to students who did not reside in the schools zone of enrollment, and that required money.
Because of their status as a public school, magnet schools are eligible for the same state and federal funding that traditional public schools are eligible1. In addition, they are eligible for federal Magnet School Assistance Program grant which provided nearly $90 million to magnet schools in 20136. Some magnet schools also receive state desegregation. On average magnet schools spend $200 more per student than non-magnet

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