Elissa Sanci: Magnet schools in Connecticut attract all races

chart midtermConnecticut comes stocked with more than just pizza, hamburgers and noodle houses: it is also home to 84 magnet schools designed to bring together students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

According to a study by the Civil Rights Project, the heavy Connecticut segregation that once existed has recently declined significantly. It’s been ten years since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of Milo Sheff in Sheff v. O’Neill and Connecticut appears to finally be getting its act together.

Sheff v. O’Neill sought to integrate urban Hartford schools with predominately white suburban schools; the court ruled that the state was obligated to provide equal educational opportunities for all.

midterm photoBut just because the state mandates something doesn’t mean it necessarily happens, making this court win hard to measure. Of course, this costs the state: as enrollment to these magnet schools increases, so does state funding. The state has invested more than $2 billion into these schools, and for a good cause; nearly 40,000 students currently attend a magnet school. In turn, these schools accept students from urban and suburban districts, picked through a lottery system.

Segregation is about poverty just as much as it is about race. Often, schools that are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic have fewer resources and less experienced teachers, putting these students at a disadvantage. With ­­magnet schools, children of color are able to be bused to schools further away, where the quality of education is often better.

While some people balk at the price the state pays, I argue that this is only fair. Spending money on an education is an investment in a child’s future, and an opportunity for possible economic mobility. Connecticut is handing out opportunities for children to create bright futures, and that is something that shouldn’t be taken away.

The chart is from http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/03/magnet-school-costs-millions-offset-from-state-to-local-districts

The photo is from iStock.


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