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Court action raises question about magnet school admissions

Monday, July 15, 2013 12:39 AM
Last updated 12:44 AM
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The lifting of a 40-year-old desegregation order has raised the question of whether changes will have to be made to the admissions process for Richmond County’s magnet schools.

The order permitted those schools to consider race when selecting students, and at least two of Richmond County’s three magnet schools did. Without a desegregation order, the U.S. Department of Education requires race-neutral policies and allows schools to use a student’s race only in addition to other criteria.

Because students for the county’s three magnet schools have already been selected for the 2013-14 year, Superintendent Frank Rober­son said he plans to re-examine policies later this year to prepare for the 2014-15 class.

Because the district’s demographics have shifted to majority-black students, Roberson said he does not foresee any problems.

“I think the natural selection or application process is going to almost guarantee diversity because of the nature of the demographics in the population in our community,” he said. “There’s really not anything to do but let the application process happen naturally, and you’re going to get the balance you desire.”

Federal guidelines released in 2011 allow schools to consider race as a “plus factor” among other admissions criteria, but it cannot be the defining feature.

For example, in competitive schools such as magnet schools, a district could draw from a lottery system made up only of students who meet basic criteria, such as grades. A district could also give preference to qualified students based on their socioeconomic status, their parents’ level of education or their neighborhood to achieve diversity, according to the guidelines.

“We live in a segregated society still, and if you’re not paying attention to diversity it’s not going to just magically appear on its own.” said Erica Frankenberg, an assistant professor in the department of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University. “Magnet schools that say they have a goal of diversity are more diverse than those that don’t say they have that goal.”

In Richmond County, both C.T. Walker Traditional and John S. Davidson Fine Arts magnet schools maintain almost an even split of black and white students.

All students who meet C.T. Walker’s academic and conduct requirements are placed into a lottery when there are more applications than available seats. Principal Renee Kelly said students are placed in separate lotteries based on race so the school can draw a balanced amount of black, white and other qualified students.

“It’s important because it exposes kids to diversity they encounter in the real world,” Kelly said. “In the 21st century, that’s even more important.”

By their nature, magnet schools are more diverse than traditional public or charter schools because they draw from wide attendance zones and admit students based on a central theme or interest. They were established in the 1960s as a remedy to segregation by attracting students of all backgrounds to high-achieving schools of an individualized focus.

“All students, no matter what their ZIP code or race, have gifts and talents,” said Mag­net Schools of America executive director Scott Thomas. “When you design a school around a specific interest, you’re going to get a wider array of diverse students.”

A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engi­neering Magnet School Principal Lamonica Lewis said her school receives more black applicants than white, and her enrollment reflects that. A.R. Johnson has certain academic and standardized testing requirements for entrance, and students are ranked based on those criteria and required recommendations.

It has resulted in a student body that is nearly 70 percent black and 23 percent white, which is level with the makeup of the district.

“We really had no reason to look at race,” Lewis said. “We simply rank the students based on the information that they give us. … It is my hope that children of any background that have an interest in health, science and engineering apply, and that’s how it’s been for years.”

Thomas said nationally, many magnet schools are using other factors to achieve racial diversity by proxy – such as socioeconomic status, their native language or neighborhood – which helps add more cultural variation to the environment.

Thomas said diversity is proven to boost achievement among students, help in the development of empathy, improve language acquisition, increase the chances of going to college and develop overall character.

“A lot of school districts are happily moving away from race because socioeconomic diversity is still extremely important to schools and school districts,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, what they have found works best is letting students choose and having compelling, high-quality programs will attract anyone and everyone.”

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DESIMAE
32
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DESIMAE 07/15/13 - 12:42 pm
1
1
Why don't they do it by scores, not by race

I personally think that the ones with the highest scores should be admitted into magnet schools. It shouldn't matter on race. It should matter on how well they do on the tests. They should just throw everyone into the same lottery and pick it that way. Why should race matter? Doing it this way could make it so that someone of a different race, with a better score doesn't get in.

countyman
20120
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countyman 07/15/13 - 01:22 pm
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2
IB

The graduation rate is for all of the high schools in the entire county, and Lake Forest is one elementary school.

The IB World School isn't some kind of ranking similar to US News & World Report annual list of the best high schools.

I think somebody needs to do some research before they make sarcastic remarks.
http://www.ibo.org/school/

They obviously have no idea how much better the students are prepared in the IB program.

I bet the same person actually believes colleges and universities treat all of the students the same. Students who are in enrolled in the regular classes don't get the college credits like those in the IB program, or taking AP classes.

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 01:21 pm
3
1
LL, Again

LL, I'm going to try to be more direct. The black students in the system are 70%. Whites 23%. However, because the whites score so high, they are only allowed to be 50% of Davidson and Johnson. We know race is currently used as method to ensure black students are 50%. That is openly admitted by everyone. I suspect there are lots of whites who are not accepted although they score higher than blacks who are admitted. If you remove the race preference, whites will eventually be a large majority. The court says you NOW CAN'T use the race preference mechanism.

Of course, as the article says, you can find creative ways without the race preference to ensure blacks are well represented. However, if the courts rule that is actually using race and disallows such tactics, we would have a black superintendent, majority black BOE, in a district with 70% black students maintaining magnet schools that have majority white students. I don't believe that will happen.

countyman
20120
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countyman 07/15/13 - 01:24 pm
1
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The population at AR Johnson

The population at AR Johnson isn't 50% white.

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 01:28 pm
1
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Countyman, thanks. Make that

Countyman, thanks. Make that Walker and Davidson

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 07/15/13 - 01:45 pm
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Not So

Riverman posted (corrected):

However, because the whites score so high, they are only allowed to be 50% of Davidson and Walker.

No, the scores are only one factor. Magnet school students go through a subjective selection process. They are interviewed. In the case of Davidson they demonstrate their talent in music and drawing. Plus they take some standardized test. Their parents are also interviewed to assess whether they have parental support.

As the the 50/50 thing; I mentioned it earlier. The school system wanted to impose the 50/50 criteria when they were seeking approval to get the magnet schools off the ground a long time ago. They proposed the 50/50 thing to the Justice Department in order to get approval. The Justice Department was not necessarily in favor of the 50/50 enrollment requirement, but Pete Fletcher was successful in persuading the Justice Department to accept it to cut down on white flight to Columbia County, which was in full sprint mode at that time (late 70s, early 80s).

Now that the court order has been voided, Roberson can set the percentages where he wants.

GnipGnop
12227
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GnipGnop 07/15/13 - 01:56 pm
4
1
No.....

I think somebody needs to do some research before they make sarcastic remarks.
http://www.ibo.org/school/

They obviously have no idea how much better the students are prepared in the IB program.

I bet the same person actually believes colleges and universities treat all of the students the same. Students who are in enrolled in the regular classes don't get the college credits like those in the IB program, or taking AP classes.

First of all color of skin not grades matter at a lot of colleges so I know more than you think. Then we have this little factoid...in Columbia County 73.8% of their 7115 high school students will graduate which equals 5250 (1865 will fail). In ARC 59.1% of their 10653 students will graduate which equals 6295 (4358 will fail). That is unacceptable and throwing out the numbers of 1 or 2 elementary schools should not deflect that the ARC school system is an abysmal failure!!!

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 07/15/13 - 02:02 pm
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Legacy

Legacy also counts in college admissions — did one’s forebears attend the school?

AutumnLeaves
7638
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AutumnLeaves 07/15/13 - 02:43 pm
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I am so glad my children have

I am so glad my children have all gone on to college and can choose where they want to live and raise their children when they have them.

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 04:04 pm
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LL

LL, maybe we are at an impasse here, but I'll reiterate. Right NOW, Davidson accepts one black student for every white student by policy regardless of how many whites have scored higher or "performed" better in the audition. That's by policy, a racial quota and was allowed when the county came under federal court supervision. I also understand you could very well be right that they will attempt to keep the black student percentage up using some tricky methods. However, as of now, selections should NOT be based on race in the district. That's what this article is getting at.

corgimom
32221
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 04:05 pm
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Countyman. the "latest" stats

Countyman. the "latest" stats on the district was posted January 2013. Do you know why it was updated in January 2013?

Because I wrote a letter to the President of the Board of Education.

Those stats are obsolete, and were obsolete the day that they were posted.

Perhaps, Countyman, you can explain why the APY results of 2012 have not been posted- and this is 2013, almost the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

"Richmond County School System (RCSS) is one of the largest school systems in the state of Georgia, encompassing 58 schools that collectively enroll 32,375 students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. The student population is 76% African American, 22% White, 1% Asian, and 1% other. RCSS is the fourth-largest employer in Richmond County employing 4,728 people, including 2,631 certified teachers and administrators."

So, what site should you believe?

The distinguished school awards that's listed on their site? That's from 2009-2010. Graduation rate of 78%? That's from 2010.

What RCBOE doesn't want to mention is that the number of distinguished Title 1 schools dropped to 18 in 2010-2011.

Nobody is keeping up with the RCBOE site, so don't depend on that too closely. It is not credible due to the lack of timely, relevant, uptodate information.

You should also be aware, Countyman, that enrollment in RCBOE has dropped, and that makes no sense for a county that is growing the way you say it is.

corgimom
32221
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 04:08 pm
1
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Little Lamb is absolutely

Little Lamb is absolutely correct in what she said.

corgimom
32221
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 04:10 pm
3
2
"The RCBOE needs to build a

"The RCBOE needs to build a new elementary, middle, or elementary/middle combo on Gordon highway to handle the growth. Many families continue to move into the surrounding area, and Sue Reynolds/Langford is not large enough."

Yeah, the school system is in dire fiscal condition, so build another school.

The enrollment of RCBOE is dropping, but build another school.

Can't rezone, now can we? That would make mommies and daddies mad, because their precious little dysfunctional children wouldn't be able to make new friends at their new schools.

corgimom
32221
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 04:12 pm
1
2
The AC is too busy reporting

The AC is too busy reporting how the school system is going broke, Countyman.

But just so I know, how does the RCBOE "make" the AC report anything? Hold them hostage? Kidnap somebody for ransom?

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 04:28 pm
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Well, explain it to me

Corgimom said, "Little Lamb is absolutely correct in what she said."

Well, explain it to me. The law now is race can't be a selection factor since we are no longer under federal court supervision. The BOE can find other methods besides race, that are really based on race, to keep the percentage of blacks higher in the magnet schools, but that's subject to lawsuits. Again, that's what this article is pointing out.

Do I think the majority black BOE will do things to increase the percentage of whites in the magnet schools? Of course not, but if they are unable to keep a good percentage of black students will the magnet schools be kept open?

countyman
20120
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countyman 07/15/13 - 05:53 pm
1
4
Please show any facts to back

The graduation rate increased around 5% this year, and will go up once the new magnet school is accounted for. The more prepared the elementary students are the higher the graduations rates will become.

Corgimom.. Please show any facts to back up one comment you've made? I don't understand why you continue to portray your personal opinion as fact... The majority of new homes near Gordon Hwy/Jimmie Dyess cost over $200k. Kids from middle class backgrounds don't usually live in dysfunctional settings. Only somebody who doesn't live in Augusta, and lives hours away in Charlotte would automatically think of the older parts of Gordon Hwy. The don't know about all of the growth near Fort Gordon.

If Augusta is so bad then why continue to post on the Chronicle?

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 07:23 pm
2
1
Countyman, sort of like not

Countyman, sort of like not wanting a Lincoln County resident to reveal the shady financial dealings in Richmond County? Hey, I don't agree with everything Corgimom says, but because she now lives in Charlotte that doesn't make her opinions less valid.

corgimom
32221
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 08:54 pm
0
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"Of course not, but if they

"Of course not, but if they are unable to keep a good percentage of black students will the magnet schools be kept open?"

Riverman, there are black kids that would give their right arm to get into a magnet school. Despite what you may think, there are lots of talented black kids that would do very well in a magnet school.

corgimom
32221
Points
corgimom 07/15/13 - 09:19 pm
0
1
"Kids from middle class

"Kids from middle class backgrounds don't usually live in dysfunctional settings. "

Boy, what planet do YOU live on, Countyman? You think that dysfunctional families are only limited to the poor?

Divorce, mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, sexual abuse- all of that cuts across socioeconomic classes, races, and income. In fact, you know who are the biggest abusers of prescription drugs? Middle and upper class women, ages 25-55. You know, the ones that we call "mothers of school children".

How sad that you think that middle-class kids don't ever experience any of that. Because they do.

A $200,000 house doesn't insure a happy family or a happy child. Perhaps, Countyman, you haven't heard of the truism "money can't buy happiness".

You may want to reflect upon that.

willie7
955
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willie7 07/15/13 - 10:21 pm
0
0
Go visit a school in Richmond
Unpublished

Go visit a school in Richmond County or sign up as a volunteer---
Many of our teachers are doing an outstanding job.
Very seldom we read about all the good things going on and the dedicated staff.
We need to do as the city of Cincinnati has done---half of the schools are magnet and parents provide their children transportation.
As results. many children left private or charter schools.
We do need some innovations and ideas in our schools.
Let me leave by saying ---go visit the new technical magnet
school on Augusta Tech campus. You will be blown away with all the latest equipment and facilities. It looked like a college building.
If you just read the newspaper, you think that our schools aren't doing anything but babysitting .

Darby
25571
Points
Darby 07/15/13 - 10:24 pm
1
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"The population at AR Johnson isn't 50%

white."

.
No, but my understanding is that it could be and that was the original target. Am I wrong.

Just asking...

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 07/15/13 - 10:27 pm
1
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Non Sequitur

Corgimom said, "Riverman, there are black kids that would give their right arm to get into a magnet school. Despite what you may think, there are lots of talented black kids that would do very well in a magnet school."

I have no idea why you said that. It's not in response to anything I said.

cgaines85
39
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cgaines85 07/17/13 - 09:12 am
1
0
Stat info

Corgimom, can you really expect the county to post the latest AYP results when the GADOE only has the 2010-2011 school year on their website? Come on! We can write Superintendent Barge together!

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