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Magnet schools' success contributes to system's failure

Posted: November 13, 2011 - 12:01am  |  Updated: November 13, 2011 - 2:41am

Let’s stipulate a couple of things:

• The continually increasing threshold for schools to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law is ludicrous, especially when it soon will require 100 percent of students to meet those marks.

• Comparisons of Richmond County schools to Columbia County schools are inevitable, but rarely valid.

Still, until NCLB is either repealed or Georgia’s school superintendent succeeds in getting the state a waiver from the rising requirements, it’s the law we have to live with. And while it isn’t valid to compare Richmond County to Columbia County, it is entirely valid to measure that system against other communities in the state with similar demographics.

It isn’t pretty. When evaluated alongside similar communities in Georgia, Richmond’s school system comes in dead last with a higher percentage of schools failing to make AYP standards.

Why? Simply put, the system as a whole is a victim of individual success.

Schools such as Davidson Fine Arts and A.R. Johnson are among some of the highest-performing, most-celebrated schools in the state. Yet its high-achieving students are drawn from schools in the rest of Richmond County, which means every school donates some of its best students to the magnet schools.

What’s left at the schools they came from? Everyone else. And as the AYP listing shows, they aren’t doing so well.

This criticism of the effect of the magnet schools is nothing new. What’s unfortunate, though, is that Richmond County school officials glorify those schools, yet seem blind to the damage of that separate and unequal system.

A public education system should do the best for the most. Richmond County’s is doing the best for a few at the expense of most. Because of the success of those lucky enough to be at the magnets schools, that isn’t likely to change – but it’s important to keep in mind next time those schools’ success is celebrated.

Just remember to ask: What about everyone else?

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Comments (6)

Craig Spinks

The Augusta Chronicle's "(C)ountyman:" The cherry-picker



Of course, some members of the RCBOE, some highly-paid educrats at the RCSS "palace" downtown and the gross, overly-paid($610K in FY2011) school board attorney Pete Fletcher won't be pleased with the truths you expose in your insightful analysis.

Can't wait to see how "the cherry-picker" "spins" your comments.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence



The Richmond County magnet schools graduate a tiny percent of the students in the county and obviously don't affect the county's overall test scores greatly.

What's also not considered is the effect those students (or lack of in this case) have at regular schools. They lead and have a synergistic effect on the entire school far in excess of their numbers.

(By the way, this new comments' section is fantastic. I was beginning to think y'all were "tired" of our comments..heh.)


Housing Authority Gets It

There's an article in the Chronicle today about the housing authority using a new plan that spreads the poor out over the city instead of concentrating them in one area. The housing authority says: "Higher-income people provide different values and attitudes for others to model."

That's exactly what superior students do in regular schools. They lead and set examples with their academics and discipline. Richmond County completely misses the boat on this issue. They want even more magnet schools.

Craig Spinks


A primary but unstated function of magnet schools is to mollify parents who value education but who refuse or decline to spend their money for its private version.

Among such parents are numbered numerous "movers and shakers," people whom porcine Pete and the RCBOE do not want to displease.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence


Dr. Spinks Interesting

That does create a way around them paying for private schooling.

Little Lamb

Government by Waiver

The analysis of magnet schools' effects on the overall school system seems sound. One needs to go back and remember some history. The magnet schools in Richmond County were created to combat one thing, namely, white flight to Columbia County.

The poor performance of Richmond County's zoned schools is amplified by the removal of good performers into the magnet schools. But do not worry. RCBOE educrats have found a solution. They have applied to the U.S. Department of Education for waivers from those sections of the No Child Left Behind law which they are failing. When the waivers are granted, the system will achieve "all the children are above average" status, à la Lake Wobegon.