Perspectives on Magnet Schools

Authored by: Ellen B. Goldring , Walker A. Swain

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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Long before the first charter school opened, magnet schools were established in urban districts to promote desegregation by offering high-quality schooling options that would appeal to a diverse group of parents. While not keeping pace with charter schools, they have continued to expand modestly in numbers and serve a comparable number of students due to their larger average size. Today they play an important role in the persistent debates about race, segregation, student assignment, and parental choice. This chapter provides an overview of the landscape of magnet schools; addresses the extent to which magnet schools serve as instruments of racial integration and diversity; and discusses the shifting roles of magnet schools in the school choice landscape and in race-neutral student assignment policies and demographic change in urban centers, where magnet schools are concentrated. The chapter considers future directions for magnet schools set against the backdrop of three policy trends: the end of court-ordered desegregation, the expansion of neighborhood schooling, and the increase in school choice options.

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