Editorial: magnet schools


West students get first-hand experience of the Iowa City Community School District’s overpopulation problem everyday walking through the halls. Pushing, shoving and yelling are commonalities when 2,000 students are trying to force their way to class. While the ICCSD looks for solutions, they apparently stumble across new opportunities.

As part of the possible redistricting plans, the ICCSD is looking into turning Twain Elementary into a magnet school. The idea came once a new version of school boundaries would put Twain well under capacity.

Many questions will have to be answered (such as what kind of magnet programming, how staff feels and others) before the proposal can be fully formed.

West Side Story’s editorial board marginally voted down the idea 10-8, for a multitude of reasons.

Our biggest question is how, exactly, could the ICCSD possibly fund this? Earlier this year, the district cut many programs throughout the elementary and junior high level totaling 3.6 million dollars, and yet they can lay down the groundwork for an entirely new magnet program? So, we either don’t have money, or we’re just not spending it in the places where it’s actually needed. Either way, a magnet school seems slightly out of our allotted budget.

A magnet school could also potentially lower the diversity across ICCSD, which is something many students take pride in. Academic diversity could easily be lost with a new magnet school. Students segregated based on their achievements or skills may also lose vital experience that makes them more accepting of other cultures and ways of life, rather than solely their own. Those admitted into the program simply won’t have as many social opportunities as students in the other ICCSD schools.

Another concern is catering to a specific group of students. Kids at the top already have resources and opportunities at their disposal, and a specialized program can put them way ahead of their peers. Unfortunately, magnet schools typically do not represent lower income or non-English students. The possibility of a selective admission into the program could also greatly decrease some students’ chances of getting in, especially since their might be more applicants than openings in the school.

In the future, with more time, money and thought, a magnet school could be a nice idea to explore. However, in the present, the district is too plagued by needing fast action to help our overpopulation, and taking on a magnet school project is just too much to handle. Simply put, it’s not exactly a realistic idea to explore.