CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School District board members have approved new guidelines for area magnet schools to make them more inclusive for all students.
CCSD Boardmember Cindy Bohn Coats said the changes just scrape the surface of a bigger problem though.
She said sees students using magnet schools as a “defacto way” to voluntarily transfer.
“I think magnet schools were initially intended to be for students who really want to focus on something and they know very early on,” Coasts said. “But we still aren’t talking about the core issue of are they wanting to get to something in a magnet school because of a specific magnet program or do we need to be spending this time talking about their neighborhood school.”
The changes were spurred by a report from Clemson University. It said choice and magnet schools are perpetuating inequity by catering to a population of white, wealthy students.
“The goal should not be to cut resources or lower standards for these (or any) schools, but to open up high performing schools to students from all areas and backgrounds,” the study said.
Coats said she hopes when the board reconvenes in January, they can start a movement which addresses the root problems that cause students to seek alternative schools.
“I think we’ve ignored the fact these are all interconnected for far too long,” Coats said. “It’s time to stop and start talking about everything holistically.”
The new guidelines are as follows:
1. For magnet schools with an entrance criteria:
- Use outside adjudicators, including teachers from other schools, to avoid the appearance of bias
- Ensure that entrance qualifications, expectations, and rubrics are communicated to all parents and teachers
2. Examine all partial magnet schools and consider eliminating programs with low enrollment and/or applications
3. Add a paper option to the online application process and provide assistance to parents as needed
4. Expand the Choice Fair to include all schools that wish to participate
5. Develop standard courses to be offered at all middle schools
6. Strengthen the core curriculum at every school and budget for additional support to help prepare students from high poverty backgrounds for magnet/choice auditions (at schools requiring them)
7. For schools with entrance criteria and long waiting lists of qualified applicants, consider expanding to a second campus
8. Review practices at all magnet schools and make changes as warranted to practices such as, but not limited to, class size, continuation requirements, re-auditioning rules
9. Consider the 1998 Harvard study recommendation: “magnet schools that require a standardized test as part of the admissions process should use a minimum acceptance score not greater than the 65th percentile.”
10. HOLD FOR CONSIDERATION DURING BUDGET DELIBERATIONS: examine magnet/choice transportation plans to ensure all students receive transportation as needed