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    Magnet Schools Defined

    Magnet schools represent an effort to promote school desegregation and enhance educational quality. The word "magnet" is used because it brings students together at a school that might not normally attend due to distance or district boundaries. Magnet schools are public schools at the elementary, middle or high school level that can be centered around a certain discipline or reform focus, ...
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    Prevalence of Magnet Programs

    The number of magnet school programs has increased dramatically over the past decade, with one in two large urban districts currently offering magnet school programs. The number of individual magnet schools has more than doubled over the past decade, with a total of 2,400 magnet schools and 3,200 individual magnet programs (some schools house more than one magnet program) being offered ...
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    Characteristics of Magnet Programs

    Magnet schools offer a wide range of distinctive programs, including programs emphasizing academic subjects such as math, science, aerospace technology, language immersion, or humanities (37%); instructional approaches such as basic skills, open classrooms, individualized instruction, Montessori, or enriched curricula (27%); career/vocational education (14%); gifted-talented programs (12%); and the arts (11%). Most magnet school programs (58%) were whole school magnets, where all ...
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    Impact of Federal Support of Magnet Schools

    Federal support for magnet programs has increased dramatically over the past decade. Since the inception of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program in 1985, over $739 million in MSAP grants has been awarded to a total of 117 school districts (half of all districts having magnet schools). MSAP funding has been effective in encouraging and enabling districts to establish or expand magnet ...
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    Magnet Schools in Comparison

    Magnet schools in comparison with nonmagnet specialty schools and programs of choice Taking both magnet and nonmagnet programs into account, 43% of the students in multischool public school systems are in districts with specialty schools or school choice programs. Among the 6,400 multischool districts nationwide, over one in six (18%) offered nonmagnet specialty programs (i.e., programs with a distinctive curriculum or ...
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    Introduction to Charter Schools

    The promise charter schools hold for public school innovation and reform lies in an unprecedented combination of freedom and accountability. Underwritten with public funds but run independently, charter schools are free from a range of state laws and district policies stipulating what and how they teach, where they can spend their money, and who they can hire and fire. In return, ...
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    Who Starts Charter Schools?

    Thoughtful community members, concerned parents, dedicated teachers, university educators, and political and business people are among those who have come together to create charter schools. KIPP Academy Houston was started by two former Teach For America teachers using two classrooms within a pre-existing public school. The BASIS School in Tucson was started by a husband and wife team of college educators. ...
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    Admission Process for Charter Schools

    Parents choose to enroll their children in charter schools, usually entering a lottery for selection when schools are oversubscribed. The schools are free to determine their own governing structures, which include parents and teachers as active members. In all these configurations, autonomy gives charter schools the flexibility to allocate their budgets; hire staff; and create educational programs with curriculum, pedagogy, organizational ...
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    Mission of Charter Schools

    At the heart of each charter school is a well-conceived and powerful mission, a shared educational philosophy that guides decision-making at every level. The spirit of the mission appears in slogans on hall placards, banners, and T-shirts and resounds in chants, assemblies, and informal conversations. In some schools, the mission is to prepare low-income, urban students for higher education, students, for ...
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    Staff at Charter Schools

    Each charter school has the autonomy to hire staff that fit its program. Gates, for example, hires teachers with specialized certification to work with English language learners. The school also hires a number of part-time teachers to reduce group sizes during core academic instruction and created a position for a teacher leader to oversee the school's complex array of programs. One ...
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    How are Charter Schools Evaluated?

    Annually, charter schools are expected to evaluate their school program, quality of teaching, and student outcome measures in light of the mission and goals defined in the charter document. All charter schools publish an annual report or a school improvement accountability plan outlining specific goals to be accomplished each year. Over a longer time frame, typically three to five years, a ...
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    Teacher-Proofing Education Reform

    Teacher-Proofing Education Reform
    "There is no way you can say teachers are underpaid. At first I believed it, then I looked at the numbers. Teachers get paid for just 1,500 hours a year, not the 2,000 hours I have to work. And they CHOOSE to defer a third of their compensation for when they retire, getting a pension I never get. If anything, teachers ...
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    A Neuroscientist's Argument for Saving School Music Programs

    A Neuroscientist's Argument for Saving School Music Programs
    Back in 2007, Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus led a team of researchers that showed that training in music as a youngster helps boost speech and reading abilities—since the same pathways used for mastering music are used for language. This past weekend, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego, she presented her own work, along with ...
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    Finding a School Year Model That Works

    Finding a School Year Model That Works
    We all know how the system is supposed to work. You start your school year right after Labor Day. You attend school Monday through Friday, usually from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., for the next 10 months or so, with breaks for Christmas and the spring and most of the major holidays. You wrap up in early June, with students planning ...
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    To Fix College Gender Gap, Look at Ninth Grade

    To Fix College Gender Gap, Look at Ninth Grade
    Women outnumber men on college campuses by a ratio of 57 to 43. As a result, some colleges are giving preferential treatment to males during the admission process, trying to ensure they get a decent mix of men to women. That practice, in turn, has groups, such as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, up in arms about gender bias in ...
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    Finish 10th Grade, Graduate High School?

    Finish 10th Grade, Graduate High School?
    Under a pilot program starting in the 2011-2012 school year, 10 to 20 high schools in each of eight states (Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) will allow sophomores ready to take college courses to graduate and move onto local community colleges. The idea comes from the National Center on Education and the Economy, which ...
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    How's Your State on Public Education?

    How's Your State on Public Education?
    Education Week released, "Quality Counts 2010," its annual report card on the state of public education in the U.S. today, praising some states and taking others to task on their stewardship of molding the next generation. What I find most interesting about the report is that states that score high marks on the metrics bundled under the heading "The Teaching Profession" ...
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    What Exactly Is a Charter School?

    What Exactly Is a Charter School?
    One of the more consistent, ongoing suggestions for improving America’s educational system centers upon the creation of greater competition amongst public schools. The reason for the steady drumbeat centers upon a belief that a change to the free market system would be one of the best methods for creating better educational opportunities for children. In direct response to the push for ...
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    Should Businesses Be Run Like Schools?

    If businesses operated like schools, we would first need to break the United States into geographic areas. It would be the responsibility of the businesses in that area to hire every adult in the area between the ages of 18 and 65. The businesses would have to hire everyone: the medically fragile (and provide nursing care), the developmentally delayed, those with ...
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    4 Necessities for School Reform

    4 Necessities for School Reform
    For months I have been over hearing colleagues talking about Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of Washington D.C. schools. The word is she is bad. She is out-of-control. What is not spoken, but clearly understood is she (and what she represents) is a threat to the teacher unions. I started to investigate this Rhee character, read her interviews, and reviewed the criticism ...
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