Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Am Magnet Man

Dana Goldstein calls for "high-quality public magnet schools in urban districts."  Those are the sort of thing that produced me, as well as superior bloggers like my classmate Ryan Avent.

Enloe High School, in Raleigh, was the sort of magnet high school that did what magnet schools are supposed to do.  It was located in the poor middle of Raleigh, and the base students were mostly black.  But since it had lots of AP classes and smart teachers to teach them, white and Asian parents from the suburbs would compete to send their kids there.  The result was that you had a high-performing, well-integrated school where well-to-do parents would actively try to send their kids.  

North Carolina pays its teachers poorly (the starting salary is just over $30K a year -- there's a big downside to being an anti-union state) so teacher quality wasn't uniformly great.  But we still had quite a few teachers with Ph.Ds who just did that thing because they liked teaching smart kids and couldn't get good academic jobs.  Dr. Anderson taught me such a good AP Chem class that when I got to Harvard I skipped the year-long Chem 5/7 sequence or even the intense one-semester Chem 10 class, went straight to organic chemistry, and got an A in the first semester.  Then I started to study philosophy, lost all interest in chemistry, and got a C in the second semester.  Uh, anyway, magnet schools are good.

(I'm back in Austin until June 1, so blogging should get back to its regular pace for a while.)
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