Magnet Schools that Attract

Students who have an interest in computer and other technological skills have long been labeled "nerds", "geeks", and other unflattering names. Maybe it is time to round up all those nerds and give them their own school--a magnet school for those who have an interest in science, math, and technology. There are many of these programs that exist, but some school districts do not see the value in a magnet school, particularly for the intellectually enhanced.

Magnet schools are controversial, and rightly so, since they offer so much and take away much as well.

One of the main bones of contention is that magnet schools are discriminatory--the less skilled students are rejected in favor of those with higher GPA's and more talent.Magnet schools are also divisive—again, those that are less talented are separated from their over-achieving counterparts. If the program is run within the regular school population, then those feelings may be intensified.

However, the benefits of a magnet program should outweigh the controversy (and magnets that appeal to the interests of all students should be established, such as those that cater to writers, performers, etc.), such as, they focus the students on a future career path, they develop talents of individuals, students with common interests are able to collaborate, the curriculum can more easily address the needs of the population, more real-life projects can be completed. A science and technology program can focus on training future engineers and doctors more efficiently than the regular program generally can. The college-bound students in these fields can be more readily identified.

A magnet program in math, science, and technology should contain the following components:

A philosophy and mission statement that identifies it as a school for those who are pursuing a career in one or more of those fields

A stringent admissions process to weed out those who will not keep up with the rigorous curriculum

Educators who are certified and demonstrate talent in these fields

Resources/benefactors to maintain the specialized equipment and labs required for the program

College recruiters who work with the school to cull the best and brightest for their schools

 

Magnet schools in urban areas may be particularly advantageous, since these schools often contain students whose talents are often over-looked in favor of those who are in need of remediation rather than enrichment. Both sets of students would benefit from a magnet arrangement; everyone would get the attention needed.