First Federally Funded Magnet Schools Open

1970

With the assistance of $6 million in federal funds, Minneapolis, Minn., opens four elementary schools and one high school with different organizational designs and allows parents to choose their child’s school. Educators base the program on the theory that students learn in different ways and that students are more likely to succeed in schools geared to their learning method with other students with similar learning needs.

By the 1970s, these schools (called magnet schools) will prove their ability to attract interested students regardless of race or background. They will become an effective, non-compulsory method of desegregating school districts, and courts are quick to encourage their use. By 1980, most major cities will feature magnet schools, particularly for students’ talents in one or a variety of areas. While considered widely successful, some educators question whether magnet schools take away some of the brightest students from their local schools and reduce the quality of education provided by those schools.