Do Magnet Schools Actually Work?
The 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, represented a turning point in the history of the United States. (144) Reversing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which said that racially "separate but equal" public institutions were legal, the court held that segregated public schools were "inherently unequal" and denied black children equal protection under the law. It later directed that the state provide desegregated educational facilities "with all deliberate speed." Kansas had been only one of many states that had "separate but equal" schools that were affected by the decision. Although Southern white officials sought to obstruct implementation of the Brown decision, many blacks saw the ruling as a sign that the federal government might intervene on their behalf in other racial matters.
The court ruled that the schools would have to come up with a solution to the problem of desegregating the schools. Special schools called "Magnet Schools" were set up. These schools were designed as a desegregation method. There were three methods used in the desegregation of the schools. Black students were bussed out to the suburbs to attend white schools, white children were bussed into the city to attend black schools, or both races were mixed in different schools. There are two types of magnet
schools. The full site school is where all students in a particular district transfer into the school and are mixed together in the magnet program. Partial site programs offer a special magnet program within a "non-magnet" general school, even though students still transfer into the school to participate in the magnet curriculum. The focus of these schools is to achieve racial balance and increase educational quality. (146)
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