Magnet Take Was Off The Mark | Letters to the Editor | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Magnet Take Was Off The Mark 

Take on magnet schools was off the mark.

This is in response to the The Boot on November 24 titled, "Tear Down the Magnet School Class Barrier." The writer encourages readers to support getting rid of the Bend-La Pine School District policies for magnet school admissions.

The argument that the policy is inequitable is primarily based on the fact that three of the four magnet schools in Bend are located on the "relatively affluent westside." While the westside does have some very nice areas, the elementary schools in question are certainly not located in those areas and the areas that are included in those schools' boundaries are filled with primarily old, and some of the most rundown, homes in the entire city. And even though the schools are located on the westside, the writer offers ZERO evidence that the students who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools actually attend their neighborhood school.

A better gauge of family income than what side of town their schools are located would be the percentage of children receiving free or reduced lunches. Those stats tell a less slanted story. Not counting magnet schools, in the elementary schools located on the east side of Bend there are 2,981 students enrolled with 1,755 of those students receiving free or reduced lunches, or 59 percent of the enrollment. Of the elementary schools located on the westside of Bend, there are 2,268 students enrolled with 824 of those students receiving free or reduced lunches, representing 36 percent of the enrollment. The four magnet schools have a combined enrollment of 1,358 students with 623 of them receiving free or reduced lunches, representing 46 percent. The average for the entire enrollment of elementary schools in Bend receiving free and reduced lunches is 48 percent, which indicates that the magnet schools are not far off the mark. Westside Village has 268 students in nine grades (K-8). The average number of students per grade is under 30 students. And 55 percent of those students are on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, higher than the district average.

The writer also argues against the policy of admitting siblings of students and children of faculty and staff members of the magnet schools. First, children of the same family should be admitted to the same schools as this promotes community and parent volunteerism that would [otherwise] be made very challenging, if not impossible. Not allowing faculty and staff members' children to attend the school in which they work would mean they would need to abolish that policy across the entire district. However, that policy probably gets more of the less affluent kids into the more affluent schools because teachers and staff are more likely to be paid wages that put them in the Free and Reduced Lunch crowd than the Awbrey Butte crowd.

We should not get rid of these policies unless there is sufficient evidence to prove that the policies are truly not fair. Secondly, we must have a real workable solution to the problem, if it actually exists.

- Gracie Landers

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