Magnet Schools, a Third Alternative


The Wake County Public School System is going to fail. On Nov. 3 in a runoff race for District Two, John Tedesco secured a school board seat, giving neighborhood school proponents a 5-4 majority.

The majority is in favor of reassigning students to schools closer to their home to eliminate busing. In theory, this is a perfect idea. Students aren’t bused, and parents may become more involved with their child’s education.

However, the negatives of neighborhood schools outweigh the positives. Let’s take Durham for example who has enhanced neighborhood schooling. Parts of Durham, with virtually no socioeconomic diversity, are doing exceptionally well, with over 90% of their students passing their end-of-course tests.

We travel across town to a different part, where most of the school’s students receive free and reduced lunch, and only 30% of the students are passing their end-of-course tests.

Could this be the future of Wake County Schools?

It seems obvious that neither busing nor diversity equate success. Wake County has a 71.7% graduation rate and Durham County graduates 68.6%. Neither of these percentages are impressive. So, instead of throwing tax payer’s dollars into another failing system where people are “crossing their fingers” for it to work, there has to be a third alternative. My alternative is magnet schools.

Enloe High School is predominately surrounded by low income families. But, by making Enloe a magnet school, parents desired to enroll their children into the system, enhancing the overall quality of the school.

If Wake County invested more in magnet programs, diversity would stay intact while schools improved.

Schools across the district have employed “controlled choice” which promotes integration and choice. Students would be assigned to their neighborhood school, but would have the opportunity to attend a magnet school for a specific program. This way all the schools remain somewhat equal and diversified and all students receive a proper education.

This idea of neighborhood schools is simply not going to fly. To the NAACP, it is another way to segregate the black from the whites. This is 2009, and Raleigh should be past this. Races need to intermingle; I think it is the only way we are going to be able to understand each other.

Attending Leesville, encountering people with different backgrounds, has helped me prepare for the real world outside of the classroom. After all, if we segregate the classes, Raleigh and the United States will never be a melting pot, only a mere salad.

Read about the recent decision to abandon busing here.


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