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Choice of Schools

To facilitate public school desegregation, many states and school districts have created magnet schools, which provide specialized curriculums and instructional approaches to attract students from a variety of neighborhoods in a metropolitan area. Often, enrollment for magnet schools is regulated in a variety of ways to ensure schools remain racially balanced, usually through the use of admissions criteria, first-come, first-served applications, lotteries, and/or percentage set-asides for neighborhood residents.

One of the strengths of magnet schools is their ability to establish a unique focus such as gifted and talented, math and science, or basic-skills programs. In addition, principals of some magnets are given more autonomy over certain decisions. For example, principals of certain magnets may interview anyone in the school district's teacher pool for an open position and may disregard seniority in making their selection.

Although magnet programs are often established to meet federal requirements for desegregating public schools, parents, teachers, and others often design the actual magnet programs based upon the needs of their communities. Operating costs for magnets are funded by federal grants, state grants, local school board contributions, corporate contributions and, in some cases, tuition paid by parents.


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