Monday, April 27, 2009

Magnet lottery- board votes this week on new procedures

On the April "Start a new post," Annette Werner wrote:

The Board will be voting on new magnet lottery procedures this week, including extra chances in the lottery (weights) for receiving a free and reduced price lunch and for living in the area where the school is located. There did not seem to be any particular problem with the magnet lottery this past year- the IB school in particular was noted to have drawn a class that very closely mirrored the district- and so it is not clear why this extra weight is being added.

More important, the extra weight for a free/reduced lunch reveals something about the magnet programs which are most successful and require a lottery. Rather than being magnets in the traditional sense of drawing students to schools that are in poorer areas and/or disproportionately attended by minority students, the programs that fill up and need to use the admissions lottery- sci tech, engineering (at Allderdice), computer science (at Brashear), CAPA- are NOT in poorer areas. These programs are in schools that already have the highest proportion of students not receiving a free/reduced price lunch.

What we do not have are magnets successful enough to draw a diverse student body to schools like Westinghouse. The sci tech school, if it had been placed at Westinghouse, might have been that magnet, or the IB school. (We were also hearing last year that the IB committee favored Westinghouse for that program, but the report from that committee indicated that transportation was a problem.)

Today's PG noted that a sports magnet may be placed at Westinghouse If a goal is a diverse student body, it would not seem best to weight a future Westinghouse sports magnet lottery in favor of students receiving a free/reduced price lunch or students from the area where the school is located.

April 27, 2009 10:06 AM


deegazette said...

I wish I could remember all the recent instances of individuals advocating for charter schools. The one that most comes to mind is the mayoral debate where councilman Dowd spoke of charters during more than one response. (Thanks Bram for posting the YouTube of the debate) Am I wrong in thinking that magnets will increase in number as an answer to the charter schools' successes?

This post on lottery procedures reminds me that I should go back and watch the portion of the agenda review meeting where behavior requirements were discussed. It all boils down to behavior. A better behaved student population equals a higher performing school.

Questioner said...

Mayoral candidate Dowd and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are advocating for charter schools. But what is strange is that local school districts, which have to foot the bill for charter schools, have been placed in charge of deciding whether to approve the charter schools.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You want to talk candidates who pushed for charter schools -- then remember 2001 when James Carmine, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Carlow, wanted a MAYOR's CHARTER SCHOOL.

At one time, it was suggested that a CHARTER SCHOOL could be spun into being by the School District itself. Humm.

Where is the full policy on the magnet changes?

We have a nice situation at Phillips Elem, K-5, where there is a magnet AND a neighborhood track within the same school. That's ideal, IMNSHO. Then the locals get to stay in their local school -- if they don't want the magnet / language. But, the magnet insures some other nice benefits too.

I listened to a bit of the TV discussion on the behavior part of the magnets and LOVED what Board member Fink was talking about. She knows that in the past when a kid was causing trouble in the magnet -- the kid got warnings and would eventually move OUT OF THE MAGNET. Back to the home school if you can't do homework, try hard, listen, etc.

That was a great policy.

I didn't love what Mr. Fink ended up doing --- NOTHING. She spoke with her questions -- but didn't have the backbone to do what she is to do -- set policy. She did the rubber stamp thing for the administration. The administration hatched the new plans -- the board just votes it along without a real objection when a real objection is necessary.

Questioner said...

The magnet policy is in the agenda review materials in the page # 180's:

If Mark is still getting up to speed on the magnet changes you can bet that most people have no clue that changes are being voted on.

Anonymous said...

This happens a lot- a board member raises an issue but then does not follow through. They seem to be hoping that someone else will follow up. Or that raising an issue will be enough and the administration will take it from there. But except for things that don't really matter, like changing some wording, usually nothing comes of the concerns that are raised.

PPSparent said...

Charter schools are not *the* answer, just like magnet schools aren't *the* answer either. If you look at the research and control for the variables, charters rarely outperform the local schools.

Charters have the same leg up that magnet schools do -- the ability and desire to get rid of kids. If a charter doesn't like a kid, a type of kid, etc. they can make the experience such that the family leaves.

Excluding kids from magnets runs into the same problem. How exactly is it that the neighborhood school is going to do a better job behaviorally with that child, especially after the kid has been kicked out of a school? What are the long-term effects of using neighborhood schools as the schools of last resort for problems?

We need to have behavioral options that are consistent across the district. We need in-school suspensions, more emphasis on getting interventions sooner, rather than later, etc. We need fewer ridiculous "zero tolerance" type over-reaction punishments and far more consistently meted out consequences for bad behaviors. It doesn't take just one time for children to learn a lesson, it's an ongoing process. AND it's a process that teachers and administrators have to agree on and work together on.

Questioner said...

Many people seem to automatically assume that magnet programs should have higher standards of behavior- maybe because some magnets have more applicants than space, although that is only SOME magnets. So it is good to hear another side of the argument.

On the issue of consistency, though, how can attempts at consistency avoid turning into rigid rules and zero tolerance?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Quote above: What are the long-term effects of using neighborhood schools as the schools of last resort for problems?

Well, neighborhood schools are NOT the last resort for problems. They might be the next step in a line once a student gets bonked out of the magnet school -- but -- there are plenty of other steps. Those steps are within the magnet (some) and within the neighborhood school (some more, perhaps).

Clayton isn't a neighborhood school. So, in a sense, the magnet is again an option AFTER the neighborhood school.

Other magnets could be blended into the system as well -- as a next (not last) step after neighborhood schools.

South Vo Tech, for example, had a lot of kids that had been to 3 other High Schools -- then they felt at home at South. They did better than before. That was a magnet.

If one screws up certain opportunities -- then specific opportunities close. That's a lesson worth teaching and drilling into the students, parents and society.

Finally, if magnets are with motivated students -- then -- more resources can be devoted to the areas elsewhere.

Questioner said...

Today's PG mentions that the Board will vote on discontinuing the German magnet at Manchester K-8 due to lack of interest.

However, interest may be determined less by the program than the location of the program. If the German K-8 program were located at a popular school such as Phillips or Liberty there would most likely be plenty of interest. And, a magnet of any kind placed at an unpopular school could suffer from lack of interest.

The article notes that different magnets will have different weights and preferences, something that many families are likely to find confusing. It is not clear, for example, why coming from a PPS eighth grade should result in an extra chance at the lottery for the IB school but not for the sci tech school.

Questioner said...

The PG article is at: