August 3, 2020

Everyone knows that magnet schools work. Except when they don’t.

An editorial in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch about that city’s magnet schools takes issue with the pervasive claim that “integration is the only thing that has ever worked at scale.’

It didn’t work. Feel free to keep saying it though.

This is where you point me to this or that book or report by this or that professor (or “journalist”) who attended white schools and feels they’re the best thing since round wheels. To which I’ll tell you to look at the outcomes in all the centers of integrationist policy and tell me which one is working?


Hardly. That district’s magnet are discriminating on the basis of race, cherry picking students, and making the traditional schools that the left behind kids suffer in more segregated classrooms.


Come on man, we’ve talked about this before. Not Wake County, Charlotte, or anywhere else.

All of them have whopping achievement gaps.

Looking at the decaying city schools where major desegregation efforts happen you have wonder if the billions of dollars spent in those communities to build systems of exclusive magnet schools are better off. Look at this example from St. Louis.

With all the problems magnet schools cause, why are there no calls for moratoriums?

But, when it’s magnets, no such demand. Why?

Here’s the heart of the editorial:

If desegregation and diversity are the goals, then the school district has failed. Clear disparities persist, and instead of attracting students from around the city, magnet schools tend to reflect the racial profile of the communities where they are based.

These schools, which require students to apply, are designed to provide training in subjects such as military preparation, visual and performing arts, or science and technology. The idea is to provide advanced education to students who can’t afford a private education. Students normally have to meet a grade-point average threshold, submit essays, and even conduct interviews, depending on the school’s requirements. Once the students qualify for their desired schools, they are then entered into a lottery.

St. Louis Public Schools says the magnet program strives for “area-wide desgregation” with a “goal of being racially integrated.” The reality is that the schools in the largely black areas are dominated by black students. The schools in white areas have higher percentages of white students. And the few schools with more diversity, all of which are in south St. Louis and the Central West End, have the highest performance scores.

According to the City Parents League of St. Louis, all three magnet high schools in north St. Louis were over 85% black. Based off of numbers collected by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch School Guide, the highest performing north St. Louis high school was Soldan, which in 2017-18, only 31.95% of whose students tested proficient or advanced in English, math and social studies. Students at Northwest Academy of Law, the lowest performing school, were only 15% proficient or advanced.

On the diversity scale, the City Parents League ranks schools as either lacking, somewhat or highly diverse. Only three magnet schools ranked as highly diverse, and all three had white student enrollment of 30% or more and are located in south St. Louis or the Central West End. Among those three schools, the lowest performing school was Collegiate, near St. Louis University, whose performance rating was 76.6% proficient. That is more than 40 percentage points higher than the top north St. Louis school.

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