Magnets, School Choice – seductive words

Carol Sawyer to CMS Board of Education
October 13, 2015

But before we use ‘choice’ as a driver of pupil assignment, let’s examine why parents want choice:

We enrolled our first grader in 1999. From the beginning, we used ‘magnet choice’ to avoid schools with revolving door principals, inexperience staff, and meager course offerings. Yet, while my daughter attended schools with more experienced staff, wider course offerings, and extra curricular opportunities those who didn’t ‘win the lottery’ were denied those educational opportunities.

Our family’s participation in the magnet system was driven not by the desire for the EAST IB program, but because that was the only way we could attend a school with a full range of advanced classes. East Meck offered a dozen AP classes, half the number offered at more prosperous schools, but far more that our home school offered.

A parent’s demand for ‘Choice’ should not driven by the desire to escape a school with 80%+ students living in poverty, or for courses and activities that should be available at ALL schools.

Before CMS considers expanding the magnet program, the Board needs to complete a comprehensive pupil assignment program that ensures that all students have an assigned school that is economically diverse.

Once you’ve made ALL assigned schools places where you would happily send your OWN child, grandchild, niece, or nephew we can talk about magnets.

In the meantime, don’t let the magnet program be the tail that wags the dog of pupil assignment.

I stand with OneMECK in asking the Board to engage a consultant to review the entire district with an eye toward eliminating schools with high concentrations of poverty and wealth.