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Friday, August 14, 2015

How the magnet schools are terrible for Duval County Public Schools (rough draft)

The crown jewels of the DCPS system are without a doubt, Paxon, Stanton and Douglas Anderson. All recognized as some of the best schools not just in the state but in the nation. Despite their success they may have caused more harm than good. This is what the astute John Meeks wrote on my Facebook page.

While the dedicated magnet high schools (e.g. Stanton, Douglas Anderson) have helped DCPS, they have the unintended consequence of creating not just a 'brain drain', but creating the belief that the neighborhood schools are not 'good enough.' I would not be surprised that many parents first attempted to get their children into the magnet schools but opted for private or parochial schools when they did not win the 'lottery' to get their child admitted to the magnet school they desired.

I have often wondered why we need two advanced academic magnet schools now that we have advanced academic programs of some sort in all our schools.

Then as John pointed out how many parents tried to have their kids go to one of those schools but when they didn’t get it elected for a charter school or a private school or just moved to St. Johns County where there is more uniformed success. How many hundreds if not thousands of children has the district loss because it wanted to put its egg into a few baskets neglecting the rest.

Then I also believe rather than having a few uber-schools then a bunch of schools with varying levels of success it would be smarter and more practical to build up our neighborhood schools  so they all have a consistent level of success finally wouldn’t closing those schools save money? Many of our high schools aren’t at capacity and bussing aint cheap.

There are other consequences too because not often do schools lose a lot of the most involved students but most involved parents as well.

If I was a parent of a child at one of those schools I would hate the idea of getting rid of them. Those schools are filled with kids that want to be there and are having their interests served and that as well as academic and artistic ability go a long way toward achieving success. I get it and I completely understand. The thing is we can’t have a district of haves and have nots. We can’t have schools that are set up to succeed and others that are set up to fail. I also think many parents would rethink their positions if we put in place programs and improved safety at the neighborhood schools.

Finally rather than fix what ails our neighborhood schools and making sure they all have quality programs, the superintendent has suggested what we need is more magnets. Which will undoubtedly hurt the majority of our kids left at our neighborhood schools, the ones that don’t opt out for charters, private schools or just moving away.

We need serious solutions to our serious problems and all I have seen offered up is more of the same.


  1. A bigger problem with the magnet lottery system is that you end up with kids at the academic magnets that don't even want to be there. Their parents wanted them to be there. I have seen students try to fail out of these schools just so they can be with their friends at the neighborhood schools. What does that tell us?

  2. You are hoping closing the magnets would result in better neighborhood schools. There is no guarantee of that. All we would be guaranteed is the loss of the magnet schools. Not all magnet students would return to public schools. Also, not all neighborhood schools would benefit equally. The lottery isn't based on geography. I would bet the majority of these magnet students would attend Mandarin, Fletcher, Atlantic Coast, or Sandalwood. Your so-called "have-not" schools would be hurt even more by the loss of your "brain drain". Now the argument would become-"why are there still underperforming high schools? "all" of the smart kids are spread around the district."

  3. Yes, I have seen students try to fail out of the college-prep magnets because they didn't want to be there.

  4. Just as the author's hope is closing the magnets would improve neighborhood schools, and there is no fact to back that up, you've created a statistic pulled out of thin air with nothing but your opinion. We have zero information about where the magnet students live and where they would go if not a magnet. Only the Duval District can provide statistics about where they live, and only their parents can speak to where they'd go to school. Did you know that Clay County kids audition for and are accepted to Douglas Anderson? It's not a regular magnet. I know kids from Clay who went to DA. I was at auditions and a kid had come from Puerto Rico to try to get into DA. He was going to move to the US for high school if he got in, so it would interesting to know where the students are from. How many come from outside Duval?