in Houston, Texas
Review of HISD's magnet schools states the obvious: Problems with funding, standards in Houston's public schools
Monday, Nov 01, 2010, 04:38PM CST
By Lynn Walsh
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The Houston public schools’ 100-plus magnet programs suffer from funding discrepancies, a lack of standard guidelines and requirements for programs and no district-wide answer to what being a “successful” magnet means, according to a preliminary review of the district’s magnet programs.

All three observations have been previously made by Houston Independent School District trustees and staff, parents and the media.

The report by Magnet Schools of America outlines 10 “emerging themes” the education nonprofit has found in HISD’s $17 million magnet program. After meeting with HISD trustees and administration and holding parent and community forums throughout October, MSA, which will receive up to $275,000 for the magnet review, has come to the following “preliminary” conclusions:

  • HISD magnet programs lack equitable funding.
  • There are no standard magnet guidelines or requirements in place for HISD magnet programs.
  • HISD is not able to define what being a “successful” magnet school means.
  • HISD magnet programs have strong parent involvement and district leadership support.
  • There is concern over the inconsistent quality of magnet programs in HISD.

Last month, former HISD magnet chief Dottie Bonner, told Texas Watchdog that “there is not a written formula at all, and even back then, there was not a whole lot of sense to how it was given.” Bonner served as the head of HISD’s magnets for seven years.

To see the funding discrepancies for yourself, Texas Watchdog published the most recent funding data for HISD magnet programs here.

According to MSA, the next report will include more detailed information including data collected during the community and parent forums.

“All information collected was catalogued by MSA consultants and will be included in the Phase I report on November 1, 2010 as raw data in the attachments section; this includes survey question cards collected from individuals and the group discussion notes from each table.”

The next report with the data is due Monday and, according to an HISD spokeswoman, the report will be made available on this page of the district’s website.

What do you think of the MSA magnet review findings? Texas Watchdog wants to hear from you. Contact Lynn Walsh at Lynn@TexasWatchdog.org, 713-228-2850 or on Twitter @LWalsh.

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