National Magnet School Month – Celebrating Educational Equity
February 3, 2021
It’s easy for most of us to recognize a problem or inequity, but not many will be brave enough to do something about it. Usually, it begins with a vision, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This same narrative applies to the struggle for equality in education. February is not only Black History Month, but it is also National Magnet School Month! What do those two things have in common, you might ask? They are, in fact, rooted in the same push for equity.
Creating Inclusive Educational Opportunity
“The history of magnet schools is tied to the 1960’s protest over school desegregation and the educational reform model of public school choice as a way to address educational inequity,” as reported by Dr. Donald Waldrip in his article on the Magnet Schools of America site. After the desegregation of public schools began, it was apparent that the need for quality education for all students must be addressed. That’s when a few brave leaders had the notion that if they allowed improved school choice and focused on an advanced curriculum (such as Fine Arts or International Studies) for all students, it would improve educational equity. Thus, the first advanced high school was born in Dallas, Texas. The term “Magnet” would come years later, as these advanced-style schools attract many students like a magnet. According to magnet.edu, Magnet Schools are founded on the five pillars of diversity, innovative curriculum and professional development, academic excellence, high-quality instructional systems, and family and community partnerships.
Brighter Futures Ahead
Magnet schools nationwide now represent how brave innovators can affect change, like a ripple effect. There are about 4,340 Magnet schools in the United States of America. They provide a more significant opportunity for school choice and typically use a system for lottery management. Magnet schools help change the climate on diversity and fight for equality and opportunity for all students, no matter their background or skin color. This educational framework is not for one party to supersede the other but to have the same choice and opportunity to succeed. Because of these innovators of school equity, who helped close the opportunity gap in our country’s education system, many students from all walks of life have attained bright futures fueled by quality education. We celebrate February as National Magnet School Month, thanks to these progressive-minded educators and administrators.