Are all the new themed schools and academies a threat to Wake County's magnet school program?
As noted in today's article, the Wake County school board is undergoing a review of the future of the magnet program. One of the messages the board is hearing from the magnet community, and some board members, is that the new themed schools are diluting the magnet program.
"Should expand opportunities and magnet courses should not be allowed in other schools to keep magnets attractive," according to one comment from the focus group meetings with staff at magnet schools. "Non-magnet STEM and Global Network Schools have made it harder to 'expand educational opportunities.' It makes it harder to sell magnets."
Another magnet school staffer said that "with the expansion of the global and STEM schools – the public will be highly confused about what is a magnet."
Another magnet staffer said we "need to protect unique curriculum because magnets have stronger curriculum."
A magnet staffer said that Wake "must be true to original objectives more than ever. We are watering down what we have by adding STEM and Global schools all over the county Magnet schools should be distinct."
On the question of what criteria should be used to remove magnet programs from schools, one magnet staffer asked "what are the objectives of the STEM, Global and Leadership Academies and what will be the measure of whether their programs will be removed?"
Similar responses were received in the comments in the magnet survey, where the bulk of the respondents were magnet parents. The Great Schools in Wake Coalition had urged that families participate.
"We should return to the original objectives," said one parent. "They are good ones, and the system worked! Other "Innovative Schools" models (STEM, etc.)should be incorporated into the magnet system under the above objectives to strengthen (rather than dilute) the magnet system, and to reduce confusion about "choices" people have."
"I think the STEM/GLOBAL schools are very poorly planned," said another parent. "The stem and global programs that are being placed in schools is just a title to get parents more interested in an under enrolled school. Why are we not receiving a survey on those programs? They do NOTHING different form what the school was already doing. The Stem and Global program should be a magnet program not a separate entity. This is another case of the Leaders not thinking things through."
"Please be careful," said another parent. "The more of these 'magnet'-like programs that are built around the Stem/Global schools model, the less likely it is that schools truly in areas of poverty will be attractive."