Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
   February 2018
36th National Conference - 
Coming to Chicago this April! 

Join us for the 36th National Conference on Magnet Schools  April 25-29, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Be sure to register soon and take advantage of the early-bird rate, which ends on March 1.

The national conference will 
be hosted by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). It is the third largest school district in the country and enrolls more than 3 71,000  students. CPS currently has 250 magnet schools or programs that feature specialized themes , including math and science, fine arts, world language, International Baccalaureate, Montessori and humanities.

During the conference, in addition to visiting Chicago's top magnet schools, we will hold numerous professional development sessions that will appeal to all magnet school professionals in all grade levels. MSA 2018 Chicago will also feature a compelling keynote speaker, awards ceremonies, student performances, scholarship announcements, education vendor exhibitions, and for the first time MSA will recognize the accomplishments of the first cohort of nationally certified schools. 

We promise, MSA 2018 Chicago will be an unforgettable experience!

Keynote Speaker:
Investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine , and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created-and maintains-racial segregation in housing and schools. She was named a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow (one of only 24 people, globally) for "reshaping national conversations around education reform." 

She has written extensively on the history of racism and inequality, school resegregation and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, and the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With.

Hotel Accommodations:

Hyatt Regency Chicago
151 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601

$229.00 per night + tax (single/double)

888.421.1442 (toll free)

Group Block Rate Closes:
Monday, April 2, 2018

To take advantage of the conference group rate, please mention that you are attending the 36th National Conference on Magnet Schools. You can also make your hotel reservations online

Building the Country's First 
PK-14 STEAM Campus

Students at Maury County Schools in Tennessee collaborate on STEAM projects across grade levels, at a revolutionary campus that spans PK-14, propelling them to true career paths.

Educators launched this initiative by thinking outside the box. Under the guidance of a new principal, Dr. Ryan Jackson, educators reinvigorated instruction through the Mt. Pleasant Arts Innovation Zone, a campus that signifies a new era of collaboration between schools.

"We wanted the kids to start thinking like creators," said Jackson.

The town's elementary, middle, and high school buildings were built a stone's throw from each other, with a community center in the middle. Under a new principal's leadership, that proximity became synergized, with teams of students working together across the three schools.

Older students working on a project share what they learn with younger students, who in turn complete projects that correspond with their skill set. The end result is a districtwide achievement that everyone takes pride in.

"Our kids will be able to put NASA on their resume," said Armin Begtrup, the STEM director at Mt. Pleasant High School. "That is awesome."

Read the full article to learn how Maury County Schools made this dramatic shift in their curriculum.

Policy Conference Attracts Array of Voices

AFT President Randi Weingarten served as the keynote speaker at the National Policy Training Conference
AFT President Randi Weingarten served as the keynote speaker during the Policy Conference. 
At a time when the debate around the path forward for American education is increasingly polarized, both sides agree that magnet schools must be part of the solution. This 'happy medium' status was on clear display at Magnet Schools of America's Policy Training Conference, where speakers from diverse viewpoints came to the stage and lauded the work that happens in the 4,340 magnet schools across the U.S.

This year's notable speakers included: American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten; Chris Rinkus from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC); National PTA president Jim Accomando; The Century Foundation Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg; and Thomas B. Fordham Institute president Michael Petrilli.

"Magnet schools are very important: We think they serve a disruptive influence to segregation, and they're really important to helping kids succeed," said Randi Weingarten in her keynote address. Speaking just minutes afterwards, Chris Rinkus from the Department of Education echoed this sentiment. "Magnet schools offer parents and students a tremendous opportunity to receive instruction that they would have otherwise never received," he said. "We view magnet schools as a critical part of the choice ecosystem."

Magnet Schools of America convenes a policy conference each year to share policy updates and to allow educators and administrators from across the country to raise awareness of magnet schools and the nearly 3.5 million students they serve. This year's conference took place from February 7 to February 9 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., with 112 people in attendance.

Ed and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx called magnet schools the most innovative institutions in the country. 
On Thursday, the group gathered on Capitol Hill where they met with legislators. While there, they were addressed by Rep. Virginia Foxx, who spoke about the role magnets can play in student development. "Magnet schools are among the most innovative institutions in the country. They raise the bar for traditional public schools. As an educator, I have seen these places of learning change lives and prepare students for future success. All children, regardless of zip code, should have access to these innovative options."

In the final day of the conference, Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, discussed why he thinks magnet schools are a crucial part of the future of education in the U.S. "There is a felt need in our society for institutions that will strengthen our democracy, and magnets with their focus on school diversity are a perfect vehicle for that," he said.

President's Budget Doubles
Down on School Choice 

This month President Trump released his federal budget for the next fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2018. Within the budget the administration lays out a spending plan for the U.S. Department of Education and all its programs. It includes a small $1 million increase for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program to restore a cut from the previous year. At the same time, the Trump budget includes a $160 million increase for the Charter School Grant program. If passed by Congress it would receive half a billion dollars. The budget also proposes $500 million in additional funding to support a new school choice innovation program that would support "a wide range of innovative approaches to school choice."

"The president's budget expands education freedom for America's families while protecting our nation's most vulnerable students," said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a press release. "The budget also reflects our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level."

Overall, the budget cuts funding for the U.S. Department of Education by $3.6 billion.  In order to provide large increases to choice programs, the budget eliminates 29 programs entirely, and reduces or consolidates another ten.  For example, it ends funding for after-school services provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and eliminates Title II funding for teacher professional development and class size reduction efforts. Furthermore, it would end the Promise Neighborhoods Program and Title IV (student support and academic enrichment grants), which can be used to support Arts, STEM, Foreign Language, and classroom technology.  

The budget also freezes funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and  includes $200 million for STEM education. The department's two largest grant programs -  Title I would receive a small .9% cut and IDEA would see a .4% increase. Please visit the USDOE website for more details on the budget. 

Money for Magnets

The Toshiba America Foundation is accepting applications from middle and high school teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Grant proposals for amounts of up to $5,000 are accepted on a rolling basis.

Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on white The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation Teacher Development Grants support small teams of teachers in the formation and implementation of K-12 classroom instruction. The grants provide opportunities for teachers to integrate innovative strategies that encourage critical inquiry into their  classrooms and observe the effects of those strategies on their students. 

To be eligible for a grant, applicants must be a licensed K-12 teacher employed in a public school in the U.S. Apply early! The application system closes when it reaches 350 submissions. Submissions accepted January 15 - April 15, 2018

Teacher Vision Grants

American Electric Power (AEP) is accepting applications from pre-K through 12th grade 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 23, 2018

The Rogers Foundation has issued a Request for Proposals for its Gift of Imagination program Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded in support of any K-12 program or initiative in Clark County that increases student participation in, or exposure to, the arts or music. Priority will be given to schools that apply directly for funding. Application Deadline: March 23, 2018 

The  Ezra Jack Keats Foundation  is accepting applications from public schools and public libraries anywhere in the U.S for its mini-grants program. Grants of up to $500 will be awarded to help educators create special activities outside the standard curriculum and make time to encourage their students. Application Deadline: March 31, 2018

Kinder Morgan Foundation supports K-12 programs that promote the academic and artistic interests of young people in cities and towns across North America where Kinder Morgan operates. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded for academic programs, including tutoring; arts; and environmental education programs. Application deadlines are the tenth of every other month beginning in January. 

Through its Living in a Material World program, the ASM Materials Education Foundation will award twenty $500 grants for hands-on, curriculum-based K-12 projects that involve student observation, communications, mathematics, and science skills to enhance student awareness of the materials around them. 
K-12 teachers are eligible to apply. Application Deadline: May 25, 2018 

Woodlawn Magnet High Student 
Wins Top Literary Award

Congratulations to Fallyn Melton, a 9th grade student at Woodlawn High Academic Magnet. She won the top award during the Ernest J. Gaines Literary Competition. It was open to all Louisiana 3rd-12th grade students. The award honors Louisiana's revered storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines who wrote the novel, A Lesson Before Dying. His writing won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1993.

Fallyn loves to write and has expressed an interest in pursuing a career as an author. In addition, Fallyn is a member of the Woodlawn High Marching Band, where she enjoys performing in parades and other competitions, such as football games.  Learn more about this prestigious award. 

Magnets in the News
Roosevelt School of the Arts students are unlocking history in a closet

These kids and their teacher are learning about people and society from the clothes worn by their ancestors. A huge outdoor storage container may not look like much, but inside it's a treasure chest and there's at least 1,000 pieces in that container.

We've all been there; that moment where you feel left out,  are  chosen last for the team, or no one wants to sit with you at lunch. However, social isolation is more than that. It's been shown to be a precursor to bullying in later years.

To use the arts as an inspiration for engagement, creativity, collaboration and lifelong learning. That is the mission statement of Royal Oaks Elementary School since teachers began using art integration to increase student engagement and performance.

Seven African-American and Hispanic families sued Connecticut and Hartford officials on Thursday, saying race-based student quotas at high-performing city magnet schools are unconstitutional and have kept their children from attending.

The stepsister of Anne Frank, Eva, was at the Tucson High Magnet School Sunday night sharing her story. Eva says there are some people who believe the Holocaust did not happen, but she says there is plenty of proof.

The Engineering and Science University Magnet School in West Haven won the 2018 Congressional App Challenge for their app called "Pass Tracker". The app was created by  students  in grades 10 to 12 and it allows them to excuse themselves from class without having to interrupt class time.

* Do you have exciting news to share about the magnet schools in your community? Please send them to:


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Meet Your Candidates

Take time to get to know your candidates for Specialized Director and President-Elect


Tuesday, February 27

Candidates for 
Specialized Director

Thursday, March 1 

Candidates for 

#Magnet School Month
is National Magnet
School Month

How are you celebrating?

Let us know by sharing on social media #magnetschoolmonth

Here is a taste of what is happening across the country!


On Our Shelves 

Choices Worth Making:
Creating, Sustaining, and Expanding Diverse Magnet Schools

By:  Jennifer Ayscue,
Rachel Levy, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, and Brian Woodward

Read it here

Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive K-12 Schools: 
A New Call for Philanthropic Support

By: Susan Eaton
 and Suchi Saxena

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