Magnet Schools Take Best Students

Published April 1, 2000

While public school advocates demand that voucher schools take all students who apply so they cannot “skim the cream,” the same advocates of equal opportunity do not make the same demands on public magnet schools, which have highly selective enrollment processes.

Although there’s no evidence that voucher schools have skimmed the best students from public schools, a teacher retiring from Chicago’s Hyde Park High School suggests that magnet schools have taken the best students, even though the schools have been a success for all involved.

Everyone can take pride in what magnet schools like Whitney Young have accomplished with good teachers, highly motivated students, and extra resources, writes Chuck Wemstrom in the November issue of Substance. But, he continues, “The magnet schools have drained the best students and a disproportionate share of resources from the rest of the system, leaving neighborhood schools worse off than they were before these programs were initiated.”