Friday, February 8, 2008

Do Magnet School Parents Have Street Cred?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Friday is probably a better time to post silly YouTube videos than ponder broad, philosophical issues of civic devotion, but, dear Pith reader, I have no such fun and games for you today. So instead let me ask you a question: Can parents boast about their family's commitment to public education if they send their children to one of the district's many high-performing magnet schools? I ask that because of a letter to the Scene this week in which a public school parent lectures Mayor Karl Dean for dispatching his kids to private school: “My family believes in public education, and we attempt to walk the walk by sending our kids to Nashville public schools.” But the letter writer also says that his kid attends a middle school magnet “so that our child will be guaranteed a spot in the nation's 32nd best public high school, MLK magnet.” Well, what would happen if our letter writer couldn't send his child to one of the nation's top high schools? Would he still believe in public education? Perhaps a little less. It's a tad easier to boast about your commitment to public education when you have a student in a magnet school that doesn't have the same challenges as many local schools. Imagine being self-righteous about how you only buy American cars when you're driving around in a Dodge Viper. Then there's also the issue that expanding magnet schools weakens local schools by luring away the smartest and most devoted parents and kids. That's really the same argument public school parents use against private school ones, right?

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