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Rescuing Public Schools

September 04, 1988

Doyle hits the mark with his criticism of America's public schools but clearly misses the same mark with his praise of magnet schools. I attended a non-magnet system and the magnet system in San Diego, and I believe that the magnet system does nothing to integrate, and surely does not provide, the broad secondary school education which our society demands.

What I saw in San Diego were 500 students bused in from across town, whose lockers were concentrated among themselves based on their own racial mix (Southeast Asian, black and white all clearly separated). I did not see these students in my honors classes, nor did I see these students in physical education or health. Most important, given the distance these students traveled from home, they rarely were able to participate in extracurricular activities.

What the magnet schools did seem to offer was a narrow curriculum that could produce narrow young men and women. Such a society will not help us to compete more effectively with other countries on the Pacific Rim. These students will find themselves lagging behind when they enter some of our best public and private universities, where only one with a broad education can successfully specialize.

What our public schools need is devotion of their resources to a high, even-playing field in all neighborhoods. The magnet school system does little to reach this goal.

MICHAEL S. GOODHEIM

North Hollywood

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