Magnet school system to expand

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Richmond County is poised to expand its popular magnet school program, which again this week earned national recognition for its academic successes.

The school system has added grades to one magnet school, is designing a new magnet and is developing three magnet programs for existing schools.

A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School will nearly double when school opens in August. The school has a new facility and is adding seventh and eighth grades. Enrollment will jump from 366 students to about 665.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation ranks A.R. Johnson as the third best high school in the state.

Richmond County high school students will have another magnet school option for the 2010-11 academic year. Laney High School will add an Advanced Placement academy for the upcoming school year and will allow any Richmond County student to apply a year later.

A new stand-alone magnet high school is also being planned.

In March, the school board moved forward with plans to purchase land, which opens the way to establish the vocational magnet school. The magnet school is in the design phase.

And Lake Forest Hills and Warren Road elementary schools have taken the initiative to establish their own programs.

Lake Forest Hills is raising money to establish an elementary school version of the International Baccalaureate program, which is already at the Academy of Richmond County. Warren Road is developing an Arts Infusion program.

After the first year, both schools will open their programs for any student within their respective districts to apply. No date has been set for when this will happen.

Academics, especially the magnet schools, are the solution to many of Richmond County's problems, school board member Frank Dolan said. When academics improve, students will return, and when students return, finances will improve.

Board member Barbara Pulliam, a retired teacher who taught at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, said she also is a strong supporter of the magnet program.

Expanding it will give more students the opportunity to attend a magnet school. The key, though, is parental involvement, she said.

She is also an advocate for the arts, stressing the correlation between the fine arts and academics.

On June 8, Newsweek magazine recognized John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School as one of the top public high schools in the nation, ranking it No. 278.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 06/14/09 - 11:45 pm
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A. R. Johnson is #3 in the

A. R. Johnson is #3 in the state and Davidson is #278 in the nation? What kind of comparison is that? Didn't Davidson get a state ranking or A.R.Johnson get a national ranking?

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 06/14/09 - 11:46 pm
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The real secret to the magnet

The real secret to the magnet system is the parameters set and adhered to. As these parameters are loosened, we get closer to the government school situation.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 06/15/09 - 01:10 am
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Davidson's high school

Davidson's high school program was ranked #1 in our state by The Georgia Public Policy Foundation(www.gppf.org). Some of the "secrets" of the successes earned by Davidson and Johnson include (1) a majority of parents who value their children's educational opportunities and who are willing to fight for them and (2) the intolerance of disruptive student behaviors by these schools' teachers ans administrators.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/15/09 - 03:04 am
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Magnet schools are an

Magnet schools are an illusion. They take from the other schools. Good students set the example and they are lost to the three magnet schools in Richmond Cty. For every accolade a magnet school receives, another school loses one. Plus, I wonder about the students who attend magnet schools where extracurricular activities are almost nonexistent. In our attempts to have at least a few high ranking schools, are we harming those superior students?

Riverman1
98859
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Riverman1 06/15/09 - 04:29 am
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Lady Lane, do tell. What

Lady Lane, do tell. What competitive sports do the magnet schools have? Again, all they do is take from the schools who dearly need superior students setting the example. Tell you what, let's call all the schools magnet schools and do away with football, cheerleading, basketball, baseball, tennis and anything else you can think of and see how it all pans out.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 06/15/09 - 05:03 am
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Riverman, I couldn't disagree

Riverman, I couldn't disagree more with your perspective expressed in your 4:04. Your arguments sound just like Copperhead's when he complains about other people making more money than he. The students at Davidson aren't "picked" from other schools, the parents that care about the no nonsense approach to education that Davidson is famous for go through a nightmare of bureaucratic b.s. to qualify their children for the school. More effort for better results. This same amount of effort in most government schools is called "beating your head against the wall". As far as competitive sports go, the students are free to pursue them through other sources. The magnet schools aren't perfect, but from an education standpoint, they're the best the government offers. I suspect that as the system grows, there'll be less and less focus on education and more on "self assurance". Kind of like what we have in government schools now.

bone
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bone 06/15/09 - 05:29 am
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craig spinks hit a homer with

craig spinks hit a homer with his comments. as a public school educator fortunate enough to work in an environment with active, supportive parents, i can assure you that no school will be successfully without both factors mentioned by mr. spinks. d.f.a. and a.r. johnson enable students in a terrible school system the opportunity to interact with peers who desire a good education. riverman, you mention sports in your post as if that is a defining element for good schooling. while i agree that school sports add spirit and esprit de cour, i don't believe they are a necessary ingredient to student achievement - a.r. johnson and d.f.a. would seem to bear out my assumption - and other academic pursuits or fine arts involvement may lead to less "athlete worship" that seems to pervade our culture (no offense to professional athletes intended, but getting paid to play a game has gotten a bit out of hand).

TechLover
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TechLover 06/15/09 - 05:29 am
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River: " I wonder about the

River: " I wonder about the students who attend magnet schools where extracurricular activities are almost nonexistent". Judging by this and your other post, it seems sports are the only acceptable extracurricular activities. I don't have experience with Johnson, but since my nephew went to Davidson I do have some experience with it. They do have swim, rowing, and golf to fit your sports only mindset. They also have numerous music, art, writing, dance, and theater groups as well as numerous clubs and organizations that would fit most peoples definition of extracurricular activities. I went to their graduation and it was amazing how many awards and scholarships the students were awarded. Their valedictorian scored perfect on the SAT and is going to Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science and study artificial intelligence. My nephew is going to Ga Tech to study Engineering. It doesn't look like missing a few football games hurt these kids at all.

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 06/15/09 - 05:38 am
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And yes God I'm still

And yes God I'm still believing that patriciathomas is saved and is a new creature in your son Christ, I give you the honor and glory for saving his soul in Jesus name. Amen.

TechLover
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TechLover 06/15/09 - 05:43 am
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jack:What the ....?

jack:What the ....?

Martinez
154
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Martinez 06/15/09 - 05:50 am
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Magnet schools are great for

Magnet schools are great for good kids with actively involved parents that follow the application process, etc. What about the good kids whose parents aren't as good. Yes there are definitely some very talented and self-motivatde children out there despite barely there parents. Those kids get left behind in the standard school system. Richmond County has done a lot of boosting about these Magnet Schools but I haven't heard nearly enough about what they are doing to improve non-magnet schools.

raptcontemplation
4
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raptcontemplation 06/15/09 - 05:55 am
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These schools require an

These schools require an audition, a contract signed by both parents and students, and the maintaining of a minimum C average. If the requirements are not met, the student is gone. How could they not be good schools? It's not rocket science.

TechLover
15
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TechLover 06/15/09 - 05:57 am
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mart: The best thing they can

mart: The best thing they can do is keep the troublemakers and disruptive students away. As an ex ColCounty teacher I can testify that a handful of students interfered with the rest trying to get an education. No backing from the admin to get them out. One kid got a whole 3 day suspension for cussing out a teacher. (actually he got nothing for cussing out the teacher, he got the 3 days because he lied about going to the office when he was sent to the principal).

Martinez
154
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Martinez 06/15/09 - 06:03 am
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What I don't understand is in

What I don't understand is in a district with as many kids, is it really a big surprise that when you take the top % of the brightest and most gifted students and funnel them into one or two schools that those two schools wouldn't outperform the rest??? To make matters worse, you then have the whole issue of performance pay. Do the teachers at these schools really get credit for teaching already determined bright, gifted and often self-motivated students? Many of these students would excel if given the book to read on their own time. Being a successful gifted student teacher is like being the orchestra conductor. The orchestra knows the music, knows what to do, all you have to do is stand there, look pretty and receive all the credit at the end of the show.

shivas
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shivas 06/15/09 - 06:10 am
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An example of succesful govt.

An example of succesful govt. schools. This must make the right-wing cringe. Any success for children seems to do that for them.

bone
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bone 06/15/09 - 06:20 am
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terrible analogy, martinez:

terrible analogy, martinez: you should spend time listening to a great orchestra playing the same repertoire with different conductors. teachers make a HUGE difference in the classroom, especially when the students are motivated to learn. shivas, i'm surprised you aren't cringing about the same concerns riverman expressed: the (supposed) brain drain in RCBOE schools has reached unprecented levels. is there another school system in the state with the highest AND lowest performing schools (okay, maybe chatham county)?

jgdarling
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jgdarling 06/15/09 - 06:31 am
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Only a "C" average is

Only a "C" average is required to get into DFA. These kids do not enter that school as the top academic performers. The program deserves the credit it gets.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 06/15/09 - 06:42 am
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this shows river's priorities

this shows river's priorities regarding education, what he doesn't realize is with magnet schools the emphasis is on education not sports, that the problem with richmond county is that more emphasis is placed on sports than being able to read or write, and when the "athlete" does not do well enuff to play at the college level or fails to make the pros then when is left is a student who is not equiped to succeed in life, hence the next option is crime. case in point a fews years back a "football star" for laney high school was caught and convicted of armed robbery of the mcdonalds at the corner of barton chapel and deans bridge road...my question to you river is how did participating in extra-curricular activities and being a star football player help this young man now doing time for armed robbery?? as opposed to being able to read and wqrite which stood a greater chance of that young man not needing to turn to crime

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 06/15/09 - 06:48 am
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BTW river, i guess it's not

BTW river, i guess it's not important that richmond county is 6th in the entire nation concerning the drop-out rate of black males(percentage wise), a larger percentage of black males drop out of richmond county schools than in the entire school system of detroit michigan, but i guess since they are black then that doesn't matter to you just as long as they can put on an athletic show for your amusement and enjoyment then it does not matter if they can read or write

Unbelievable
102
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Unbelievable 06/15/09 - 06:53 am
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I guess River would rather

I guess River would rather have those students wanting to learn be squashed by the ones that are there just for free lunch and daycare. I have 2 kids in Walker and they both play sports (at the Rec department). If it wasnt for Walker I wouldnt live in Richmond County. Please dont say Columbia Country schools are so great either. The only difference in the two counties is that one the parents can afford big name lawyers to get their kids out of trouble and there are more drugs in the schools in Columbia Counties (I know from Experience).

Cestlavie
147
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Cestlavie 06/15/09 - 07:40 am
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Personally, I can see both

Personally, I can see both sides of the issue. When I was in the public school system here in the 70's, there were no magnet schools. Those of us at the top of the academic ladder (I was my school's STAR student) naturally pushed our peers and became a resource for them when they didn't understand what was going on in class. On the other hand, I remember being so bored in class because the other students didn't catch on as quickly as I, and I would often have to find something with which to occupy myself until they caught up. I wish that I could have attended a magnet school then. On the other hand, as a public school educator, I see the drain in the classroom now. I agree that when you take away the brightest students, the students who remain are not as motivated to learn, not do they have many examples to follow. I would suggest that every school be based upon the magnet school model: dedicated teachers teaching in an environment conducive to learning, encouraging parental involvement with a low tolerance for misbehavior. If we raise the level of expectation in the classrooms and individual schools, we would see a change in the expected outcome.

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 06/15/09 - 07:45 am
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Well I never thought this day

Well I never thought this day would come but PT I AGREE with you.

Cestlavie
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Cestlavie 06/15/09 - 07:51 am
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Now the other issue that the

Now the other issue that the current magnet schools avoid is special needs education. One of the reasons many of our schools don't make AYP is due to the inclusion of special needs students' scores in the testing conglomerate. Most of our schools would meet AYP if those scores were not included. The need to educate special needs students is important--however, to ask these students to perform at the same level as their average peers is a true challenge. Not that some of them can't; it just takes longer and requires more patience in many instances. However, AYP goals do not take this situation into account. By law, the special needs children that I teach must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which I must follow. If I try to teach these students the same way I teach the rest of the class and insist that they achieve the same standards that the rest of the class does (and they fail) I am in trouble. It doesn't make sense to me that while I have to adjust my curriculum in the classroom, that doesn't apply to standardized test results. This is the issue that is seldom addressed and needs to be.

AAQueen
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AAQueen 06/15/09 - 07:56 am
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Cestlavie ou have a valid

Cestlavie
ou have a valid point. I think that the schools should have two scores, one with special need students score included and one with out to determne where they stand.

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 06/15/09 - 08:26 am
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DFA is a great school, no

DFA is a great school, no question. All that has been said about the discipline imposed and parental involvement is true. However, Davidson families are self-selected, to some degree. Only families with a high-scoring kid and the patience and persistence to endure the admissions process get in. If those kids had stayed in their district schools, they would have lifted the schools' averages, elevated class discussions, and just generally improved performance. You're kidding yourself if you don't recognize that schools like DFA are a drain, to some degree, on the rest of the system. They don't have to deal with discipline problems (you mess up, you're out...to your district school), they have unprecedented parental support, and their kids are good at standardized test taking or they would never have been admitted. (BTW, there are for the most part absolutely fabulous teachers at DFA....but there are also some stinkers who can't write two grammatical sentences in a row.) Anyway, extending the magnet school concept to the entire district makes very little sense. There are only so many high-achieving kids and motivated families.

Bored in GA
2
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Bored in GA 06/15/09 - 08:50 am
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Most of all time it comes

Most of all time it comes from the parental involvement and why should our above C average kids have to be in thwe regular schools to be brought down and not learn new everyday by those that do not have parental involvement so that the kids behave and strive to be tops like kids in Magnet schools have to do! PARENTS wake up and get your kids motivated!

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 06/15/09 - 08:56 am
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I spent four years at Johnson
Unpublished

I spent four years at Johnson and graduated. I am very grateful for Johnson. I didn't miss football or basketball one bit. I was a very impressionable young teenager, who knows what kind of trash I would have followed around and ended up like if I had gone to my zoned school.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 06/15/09 - 09:43 am
0
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There ARE sports at the

There ARE sports at the number one pubic school in the State, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School: Swimming and Golf, and occasional intramural basketball games. There are students involved in other sports after school, a popular example is Rowing, but most don't need more physical activity because they have P.E. classes and/or African Dance, Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern Dance, and and/or weight-training classes, not to mention a lot of walking between classes.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 06/15/09 - 09:51 am
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It's annoying when they

It's annoying when they mention A.R. Johnson is third at the top of the article, slighting Davidson, which is number one in the STATE and that is not mentioned in the article, then go to the very bottom of the article and mention Davidson is #278 in the NATION, and not mention where Johnson is in relationship to that ranking, leading some less attentive readers to think that Davidson is far behind Johnson, in the national ranking when it's the other way around.

Riverman1
98859
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Riverman1 06/15/09 - 10:29 am
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The magnet school concept has

The magnet school concept has flawed logic. It is like raising the minimum wage. Let’s make it $50 an hour if it works so well. Let’s make all schools magnet schools and stop removing the best students from other schools and see what happens. Don’t you guys get the flaws of magnet schools in Richmond Cty? You take the best students and move them to magnets school that are not open to other students who are every bit as talented due to racial quotas at our magnet schools. One ironic consequence of the racial quotas is that you have white students taking slots in good schools in black neighborhoods. But think of what you are doing to the schools left behind. Not only are you taking superior and motivated students, but the involved families of the students.

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