“Neighborhood schools could soon be a thing of the past,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported this weekend.
As our annual “changing landscape” analyses reveal, choice is becoming the norm in Florida’s public education system. More than four in 10 students choose some option other than their assigned public school; in Miami-Dade County, these choosers now constitute a majority of all public-school students.
The Sun-Sentinel reveals districts are playing a crucial role in driving this trend, and that they’re creating magnet programs and other new options in part to compete with charter schools proliferating in their backyards.
“Choice in life is great. It doesn’t matter if it’s where you’re going to eat or where your child is educated,” said Mark Hage, principal of Hollywood Academy of Arts & Science charter school.
School choice isn’t new. Broward County‘s four Nova schools have accepted applications from students countywide since the 1960s.
Magnet programs, offering such themes as the arts or technology, started in the 1970s for desegregation purposes by attracting white students into schools in black neighborhoods.
But in recent years, districts have had a new motivation to offer a variety of choices: competition from charter schools. Enrollment has been increasing by an average of 10 percent, as more schools have opened.
In a few months, a new statewide open-enrollment policy is expected to take effect, meaning these trends are only likely to continue.