As their name clearly suggests, magnet schools in Hartford, which offer access by lottery to demanding, career-oriented course work, are drawing the more ambitious students and parents away from neighborhood elementary schools and high schools.
That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Motivated children, of which there appear to be many based on the long waiting lists to get into magnet schools, should study in whatever institution they believe will help them meet their expectations. If that institution is a magnet school, why shouldn't they apply?
Students who remain in neighborhood schools likewise deserve the best education that the school system can provide.
Many neighborhood school educators, however, simply complain that the exodus of so-called model students hampers their ability to be effective teachers.
A preferable response to magnets would be to commit to do better by the students who remain in neighborhood schools.
Had high achievers felt they were getting the best education possible at neighborhood schools, they wouldn't leave.
Such are the consequences of school choice. It creates competition. If you want to hold on to students, you have to offer a program of study that works.
Hartford's new school superintendent, Steven J. Adamowski, has vowed to re-engineer lower-performing schools to do exactly that. That's a promising sign.
If the differences between magnet schools and neighborhood schools weren't so glaring, Mr. Adamowski might not be so motivated to make those improvements.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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