Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
  Summer 2016
Happy and Safe Summer Greetings

Now that we have officially marked the beginning of the summer with the passage of the Solstice, I would like to first thank you for your support of Magnet Schools of America and congratulate all of you for successfully completing another school year. Because of your dedicated efforts, our magnet school students and communities continue to face a promising future.  

During the 2016 school year, we witnessed many developments in the education world at the federal, state, and local level. We watched the president sign a new education law to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, we saw states grapple with the realities of implementing the Common Core Standards, and local school districts tackle a variety of complex issues. 

Thankfully, by joining together as an association we were able to share our insights and expertise to meet these challenges directly. For example, as a community we stood united to protect the only federal support for magnet schools when it was threatened last fall. We also ushered in a new era by launching the first ever national certification program for magnet schools. 

During the summer, we hope you will take time to recharge your batteries and gain some much deserved rest and relaxation. We also hope you will use the break to grow and plan for the next school year. One step you can take is to get a head start on preparing for our national awards program. Applications for merit awards, superintendent, principal, and teacher of the year will be released at the beginning of the fall. We encourage you to begin thinking about the process of applying and how to fulfill the necessary requirements now. 

In addition, be sure to add our upcoming events to your calendar including the Fall Technical Assistance and Training Conference October 9-10 in Washington, DC, the National Policy Conference, also to be held in the capital in February, and our 35th National Conference in Los Angeles, California April 26-30, 2017. 

Furthermore, this summer you can continue your professional development by reviewing all of our webinars that were held by the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) this year. We had some extraordinary sessions that covered many facets of theme-based education. You can review all the recorded sessions on our website using the passcode: MAGWEB2016.

Lastly, if your district or school is planning to go through a magnet review or improvement process, please consider utilizing the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership and its team of qualified experts. They can assist with all aspects of magnet school design and implementation. 

Thank you again, please have a safe and enjoyable summer break!

Todd Mann, Executive Director

Solving School Segregation
is Not Rocket Science
As featured in the Hill 

In 1968, the United States launched Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon and return safely. In that same year but with much less publicity, Tacoma Public Schools launched the nation's first magnet school, McCarver Elementary School, in an attempt to diversify its segregated school system.

Almost fifty years later, a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and a Federal court ruling in Mississippi show that school segregation remains a national problem and that magnet schools are still a viable solution that fly under the public radar.

Tacoma's magnet concept was a response to the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, and was followed the next year by Trotter Elementary School in Boston. Magnet offerings around the country have since grown; today nearly 4,000 magnet schools nationwide serve over 2 million students.

Magnets work by focusing on an educational theme, like science, technology, foreign language immersion, or performing arts. These themes attract a wide range of students from different backgrounds and neighborhoods.

These simple principles run contrary to many of the segregated school districts across the country, and, strikingly, according to the GAO report, this problem is getting worse, not better. Sixty years after the Supreme Court ordered schools to stop providing "separate but equal" services along racial and socio-economic lines, too many educational districts allow geography to segregate their students. 
Keep Reading >>

Collaborating to Promote 
Social Emotional Learning

Magnet Schools of America is collaborating with National University to expand a nationwide initiative to introduce schools to Sanford Harmony, an innovative social emotional learning program that helps reinforce positive peer interactions among children. Already being rolled out to thousands of classrooms through National University's leadership, the PreK-6 program provides easy-to-use lesson plans and resources at no cost to schools that encourage communication, collaboration, and celebrating differences among students.

Magnet Schools of America will collaborate with 75 schools to introduce Sanford Harmony during the first year of the collaboration, targeting several districts and states across the country. The agreement - the largest to date with a national organization for the University - complements current efforts led by National University in coordination with other universities and organizations that have resulted in Sanford Harmony being adopted in more than 8,850 classrooms around the country, which represents over 180,000 students in 20 states.

The mission of Sanford Harmony aligns strongly with the collective emphasis of magnet schools, which have their roots in encouraging culturally competent educational environments that model empathy, respect and collaboration.

If your school or district is interested in participating and would like to receive free Sanford Harmony curriculum, learning materials, and training, please email Kelly Bucherie, Director of Magnet School Leadership at

Magnet School Funding - Update

On June 9, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed funding legislation that provides $67.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Education or a $220 million cut from last year. The FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill was approved by the committee by a vote of 29-1. Prior to the vote, MSA sent a letter to members of the committee requesting robust funding for magnet programs.

The bill provides $96.6 million to the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, which is the same amount as the previous fiscal year. The appropriations bill would also provide $11.95 billion or a $40 million increase for special education though IDEA and $15.4 billion for Title I grants to local school districts, which serves disadvantaged students. This is a $500 million increase over last year, but includes funding for school improvement that is now consolidated within Title I.
While the bill has bipartisan support, it does under-fund a new block grant that supports STEM, school counseling, arts, health and physical education, technology, and other well rounded education programs. This new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program was created under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It consolidated many established programs and would receive only $300 million, which is much less than the $1.65 billion authorized by ESSA.

The passage of the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee is only the first step in the annual appropriations process. The U.S. House of Representatives must also finalize identical legislation before it can be sent to the President for his signature. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to release or markup their funding bill after the July 4th holiday. 

This gives you time to send your congressional representative a message in our Grassroots Action Center asking them to support magnet school funding next year. Please take action now! 

Federal Agencies Team Up to Promote 
School Diversity and Opportunity

Earlier this month, the U.S. Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation released a letter to state and local leaders urging them to coordinate their efforts to ensure that every child and family is provided with transportation, housing, and education tools that promote access to social and economic mobility. 

Citing the harmful effects of concentrated poverty and the benefits of school diversity, the joint letter authored by the three agency secretaries outlined multiple ways to breakdown community barriers that hinder access to opportunity. 

For example, the letter calls on state and local education agencies to:
  • Develop strategies for drawing school attendance boundaries, selecting sites for new schools, and the placement of boundary-free open enrollment or lottery schools (such as charter schools or magnet schools and programs) with a specific aim of providing equal access to high-quality schools and increasing the diversity of the community
    served by these schools.
  • Consult with transportation and housing authorities and housing development agencies when engaging in school site planning, in order to ensure safe passage to school for students and that high-performing schools serve diverse populations, including high-need students.

Transportation agencies on the other hand are encouraged to:

  • Work with local schools, housing authorities, and housing development agencies to create good land use and planning strategies that foster ease of access to critical housing, school, and transportation resources for students, teachers, parents, and the broader community.
You can read the entire joint letter and all its recommendations here

Seeking Creative Art Teacher 
for Downtown Raleigh Magnet School

Moore Square Magnet Middle School, located in downtown Raleigh, NC is looking for a dynamic, inspiring, visionary Art Teacher. Moore Square is a small GT/AIG magnet school with only 430 students. It is in the midst of a federal grant to support arts and elective programming and technology. In this position, there is an opportunity for paid curriculum writing for arts courses. The studio space is also great! There is a kiln, one wheel, Apple TV and an outdoor rooftop studio space attached to the classroom.

Because Moore Square is located downtown, there are opportunities for collaboration with local museums and artists. The school is on a modified traditional calendar which means students return July 25. To find out more about Moore Square please check out the school website

Interested applicants can send inquiries and resumes to Principal, Jackie Jordan at and/or Magnet Coordinator, Myra Smith at

Support for Magnet School Educators 

Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on white
The Teacher Incentive Fund supports performance-based compensation systems for teachers, principals, and other personnel in high-need schools. The FY 2016 grant competition has an estimated $50,000,000-$70,000,000 to make up to 10 new awards. Local educational agencies (LEAs) including charter schools that are LEAs; States (SEAs) that apply with one or more LEAs; Nonprofit organizations that apply in partnership with one or more LEAs or an LEA and State are eligible.

Deadline for Notice of Intent To Apply: June 30, 2016. Deadline for Applications: July 15, 2016.

The Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program provides support for K-12 teachers, principals, guidance counselors, and school librarians in Indiana to take time during the summer to pursue a hobby, explore a subject that interests them, and re-energize before returning to the classroom in the fall. In 2017, the program will award grants of $12,000 to one hundred educators. Application Deadline September 1, 2016

Through its Learning & Leadership program, the foundation makes awards of up to $2,000 to support the participation of public school teachers and public education support professionals in high-quality professional development experiences. It also awards grants of up to $5,000 to support group projects related to collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences. Application Deadline October 15, 2016

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications to its Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas Grants for Grades 9-12 Teachers program, which supports senior high classroom materials or lessons that connect mathematics to other fields. Grants up to a maximum of $4,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 9-12. Application Deadline, November 4, 2016

The National Science Teachers Association, with support from the Shell Oil Company, is inviting nominations for the Shell Science Teaching Award, an annual program that recognizes an outstanding K-12 classroom science teacher who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and community through exemplary classroom science teaching.

The award includes a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to attend NSTA's national conference; two finalists will also receive all-expenses-paid trips to the conference. Application Deadline January 6, 2017

American Electric Power (AEP) is accepting applications from pre-K-12 teachers for mini-grants in support of classroom projects. AEP will award grants of up to $500 for projects that promote science, mathematics, technology, electrical safety, the balanced study of energy and the environment, and energy efficiency. Applicants must live or teach in the AEP service area or in a community with a major AEP facility. Application Deadline: February 24, 2017

For additional grant and funding announcements, please visit our website

Magnets Making News 

A group that oversees the St. Louis school desegregation program is discussing an option that would end the nation's largest and longest-running desegregation effort. Superintendents and representatives of 12 participating school districts met Thursday to begin planning for the potential change to the program, which has allowed more than 60,000 black students in St. Louis to attend suburban schools during the last several decades.

Vermon is a student at Melrose Elementary, which has been home to the Center for Journalism and Multimedia since 2002, when the magnet program began as a result of a partnership between the Pinellas School District and the Tampa Bay Times. The program, led by the late Cynda Mort, won national awards as a one-of-a-kind elementary journalism magnet and was later expanded. 

The Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts is one of only two schools in California to be recognized by the state Department of Education for three honors: students' academic performance, an outstanding arts program and for overall achievement.

High school students in college-level lab take on Bay-size studies

Horseshoe crab activity, algal blooms and building underwater vehicles are only some of the projects at Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, VA.

Teaching is their family business

"It's a family business," said Michael, who teaches science at American High School in Hialeah. While he hoped his sons would go on to become doctors or lawyers, Enriquez Sr. said he was happy when they chose their careers because it was what they wanted to do.

Sunnyside summer program nurtures budding mariachis

Mariachi has deep ties to the Sunnyside community. The program seeks to deepen those ties with the rest of the community. "We're hoping to allow students to really gain appreciation for mariachi music," said Daniel Dong, the program coordinator and musical director at Lauffer Middle School.

Volunteers provide facelift at Belfair Montessori Magnet School

From sawing to assembling and everything in between, it was an all hands on deck efforts as men, women, and children spent the day breathing new life into the Belfair Montessori Magnet School.

Norwich Public Schools named Jessie Wraichette as teacher of the year. Wraichette is an art teacher at Wequonnoc Arts and Technology Magnet School, teaching kindergarten through fifth grade.

CAMS students receive almost $11 million in scholarships, grants

"Proportionally, CAMS students receive more scholarships than any other school in the district. Almost all our students go to four-year universities or colleges. These institutions offer nice financial incentive packages. They want students from CAMS because they are very well prepared for college," said Barry T. Baker, CAMS director of college counseling.


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Schools Students Want. Schools Students Need. 

MISSION: Providing leadership for high quality innovative instructional programs that promote choice, equity, diversity, and academic excellence 
for all students.

Join us at our annual
Fall Technical Assistance Training Conference October 9 - 10, 2016 in Washington DC 
at the Capital Hilton. 
Sessions will focus on building and sustaining successful magnet school programs. 

More details to follow!
Worth a Look!

Is your school thinking about starting a STEAM program? If so, be sure to add this white paper to your summer reading list. It includes 11 useful tips and case studies for bringing STEAM to life in your school. 
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