Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Magnet results in: Morehead stands out

Results from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet lottery are in,  and if there were a prize for most popular,  Morehead STEM Academy would take it.

Students at Morehead STEM Academy
The K-8 math-science magnet in the UNC Charlotte area has just over 1,100 students placed,  with another 927 on the waiting list after the first lottery. After last year's lottery the school had just under 1,000 students,  with an overflow of 624.  (See results from previous years here.)

The second-longest wait list is for perennial favorite Park Road Montessori,  which has 397 wait-listed for a school with just under 500 students.  Montessori schools,  unlike other magnets,  accept students in prekindergarten.  Park Road had 279 pre-K applicants,  and only 45 got in.

Overall demand for magnets is up this year,  as Superintendent Heath Morrison,  the school board and a citizens task force mull whether future expansions and revisions are needed.  The number of students placed for 2013-14 is just under 19,000,  little changed from the current year.  But the waiting list is up by more than 20 percent,  from 3,547 after the 2012 lottery to 4,348 this time.

As usual,  lottery results show that in magnet schools,  as in real estate,  the key is location,  location,  location.  The International Baccalaureate magnet at East Mecklenburg High pulled 845 students and had 71 on the waiting list.  None of the others had waiting lists. North Meck's IB magnet drew 583 students,  Harding's 393 and West Charlotte's 229.  (Myers Park,  as you may recall,  still has an IB program,  but it's no longer considered a magnet because it doesn't take students from outside the attendance zone.)

Harding's numbers hint at an ongoing challenge for the school,  which was a popular and high-performing magnet school just a couple of years ago. At its peak, Harding's IB magnet pulled more than 700 students,  with a math-science magnet comprising the other half of the westside school.  Then the school board closed Waddell High,  a struggling high-poverty neighborhood school,  and sent most of those students to Harding,  while moving the math-science magnet to Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology.  Interest in the IB magnet quickly slumped,  as academic and disciplinary challenges rose. Last year's lottery saw 451 IB students placed at Harding;  this year's report shows a significant decline in students moving on to the next level there.  However,  ninth-grade placements are up from 77 to 162,  so if Harding can hold onto those students that could signal a revival of its IB magnet.

There's still a second lottery coming up for students who didn't register in time for the first one or who want to try for schools that still have seats available.  Check here for dates and details.


BolynMcClung said...


Magnets drain motivated students and parental support out of the home schools. No doubt, graduation and growth at home schools declines.

It might do something to build up the value of neighborhoods if CMS were to have a "Home School Area" report on the students living there regardless of the school they attend.

For example, all the Cato students where graduation rate is 100% would be credited to each students home school neighborhood in addition to their Cato records.

Just a thought.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

The answer to improve schools? Boot camp schools for discipline problems. Got the stomach for it, society?

Anonymous said...

As usual, lottery results show that in magnet schools, as in real estate, the key is location, location, location.

People don't want to send their kids to a school that has major discipline problems and into an area where crime rates are higher. That holds true whether the school has a magnet or not.

Another factual reason why public education is in the toilet, yet educrats continue to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge that fact.

But by God we're adept at cultural competency, even though we're incompetent doing everything else.

Pamela Grundy said...


The key is quality. Location is less important. For years, some of the longest waiting lists were for Villa Heights, right in the middle of a quite challenged neighborhood. Villa Heights was a high-performing school, so people wanted to send their kids there. Shamrock Gardens hasn't moved an inch since it was constructed half a century ago, but the school's popularity has waxed and waned based on the quality of the instructional program. High poverty schools face greater challenges, both in perception and in reality, but if staff, parents and CMS can work together to build a high-quality program, location doesn't matter much.

Anonymous said...

No mention of Piedmont Middle? The waiting list is huge for that school....and it is consistently one of the top middle schools IN THE STATE.

Anonymous said...

So, Myers Park has an IB program AND one of the most comprehensive AP course offerings that no one outside of the home zone (which extends all the way to Highway 51) can attend? Are there any other schools that have non-magnet IB programs? Why doesn't Providence High and Ardrey Kell have IB programs? What does the free and reduced lunch rate have to be in order for a school to qualify for an IB program? How many low-income students in the Myers Park home zone are enrolled In and actually graduate from the IB program? Where did Harding IB students who flew the coop land? Where do the hundreds of student who don't get a seat at Park
Road land? What percentage of wait-listed students enroll in private schools? What percentage of wait listed students settle for a CMS home school placement? What home schools have the highest percentage of families trying to opt out? Has anyone ever been able to fully determine exactly what a Traditional elementary magnet school offers vs. a regular elementary school?

Magnet school graduate

Anonymous said...

The results aren't surprising. The schools with the long wait list are the ones that are full magnets. Every student\parent that is there wants to learn and are performing at grade level, thus allowing the teachers push the students to perform even higher. So who wouldn't want their kid to go to those schools.

The other ones are partial magnets to where both teachers and students are mixed. The teachers are spending too much time with discipline issues and getting people up to grade level to focus on the high performers and push those kids. (This is not a mark against the teachers, just a fact they can only do so much)

Anonymous said...

My oldest son landed 168 on the "non-white" wait-list at Myers Park Traditional (yes, there were two lists like Schindler's). He was later wait-listed at Myers Park
IB before CMS shut off the program to try and prevent District 6 students from circumventing South Meck. He graduated from private school.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing up the partial vs. non-partial element. I think CMS has too many partial-magnets which drain neighborhood schools. Strengthening and expanding fewer full magnets has always made more sense to me. Pamela would disagree.


Anonymous said...


Two wait lists based on race?

Isn't that discrimination?

Oh, I guess not if the non-white list was "preferred".

If this is true, I can't imagine why anyone would leave CMS...

It is the Holy Grail of progressive thinking for sure.

Anonymous said...


Detroit was once a beautiful city and is half the size it used to be, so I would venture a guess it's now in the wane column.

When Obama was re-elected, the city council demanded "some bacon" for helping send him back to the White House, even though gross mismanagement of the city and stealing by the Mayor helped accelerate their decline.

Now they want to blame their problems on a Republican governor for wanting to takeover the finances of the city and have even gone so far to make it racial because the governor is White.

At some point, people have to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming their lot in life on someone or something else.

The "high poverty schools face greater challenges" argument is dead, just as it was half a century ago.

Anonymous said...

Oops. My son landed 168 on the white wait list. The other list was non-white bumping him to over 200-300 and something on the overall master list in the spirit of Cultural Competency.


Shamash said...

Of course location matters.

Maybe SOME people don't care about location, but for the ones who do, it matters.

So location WILL matter depending on how many DO care.

Even if only 10% of the people care about location, it matters.

It is only if no one has a preference for location that it wouldn't matter.

It's like Ford building and selling only black automobiles and saying color doesn't matter.

They'll never know for sure until people have a choice, will they?

Simple enough?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see which high schools the incoming IB students at East Meck are from. It and Randolph for Middle School make good escape routes for students in areas assigned to Garinger High (for instance Plaza Midwood)or east side middle schools--also gives even the most self righteous parents an excuse to avoid certain schools. And is it true that once enrolled in an IB school students can opt out of the IB diploma program yet remain at that school as long as they're taking some IB courses?

Anonymous said...

I agree with location location location. Unless of course CMS changes the location location location. I sent a son to North Meck and he graduated before the boundary change. I now have a first grader and wouldn't think of sending him to that school. David Cox used to be the premier elementary. Given the extreme changes since the boundary change, principle change and various others, we decided to send the first grader to a magnet. It is a shame what CMS did to these schools. What in the world will we do for middle school? Well we are planning on private school or moving out of our home of 15 years. There are always drugs and discipline problems. We teach our children how to cope it is a life lesson, however, my son and NOBODY's son should have to deal with extreme violence and firearms. Start expelling students and holding them back if they don't have the grade. That element in the schools is infringing on those student's and teacher's right to a safe successful learning experience. Shame on CMS for spreading the problem around instead of addressing it.

Shamash said...

Being a "mixed" family, we have a choice (of the Hobson variety).

I could either claim my children are white or non-white.

So what should I do?

Unfortunately, the other "half" is Asian which receives EVEN MORE discrimination for admissions (especially in colleges).

Don't think we haven't considered this when thinking of both our children's futures.

It's a sad, sad reflection on the current state of our society when ethnicity trumps ability.

We're thinking of labeling oru children "white" (even though my son is often mistaken for a Mexican in the local Compare) just so they don't face Asian college discrimination.

Or maybe we'll switch ethnicities mid-stream to game the system and have their school "records" sealed, which seems to work so well for politicians.

Any ideas?

Does CMS give preferential treatment to Asians over whites or is it the other way around?

Could the "diversity" leader at CMS answer this question for us?

Could my child get preferential treatment for a language magnet (for example) if he was genetically related to a large group of people who spoke something other than English?

I want my kid on the RIGHT list (and not necessarily the "white" list).

Anonymous said...

When we first moved here my well qualified child did not get into the Barringer gifted magnet. I was told that there were no "white" slots left but that there were unfilled "black" slots. Welcome to Charlotte!

This was almost 20 years ago. Alicia, your experience probably was not as long ago. Is this black and white slots thing still going on?

Anonymous said...

If I ever see a "list" like the one Alicia mentions, it will be in a lawyer's hands the next day.

CMS, better start shredding those lists...

Hey, Heathbar, you listening or getting one of your minions to read this stuff?

Better hop to it, boy.

Anonymous said...

South Meck is essentially a forced Split-Feed magnet with four different middle schools split-feeding into while schools like Garinger fend for themselves. It is about location, location, location and the political clout of your district school board rep.


Anonymous said...

We need more schools like Morehead STEM Academy. That school ROCKS! Great teachers led by a great principal.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe CMS is allowed to consider race anymore for the magnet lottery. They do give minor consideration to kids living within walking distance, and those who qualify for free/reduced lunch (up to a limit).

Missouri said...

Pre Cappichione lawsuit, CMS used magnet schools as a diversity tool. Attendance was based on winning a seat by lottery. You were placed into the lottery and the 2 lists were "black" and "non-black". It was not unusual to have "black" seats left at schools after the and "non-black" seats had long waiting lists. CMS's policy was not to give up those empty seats. Had they been willing to give up those seats the first day of school, there never would have been a lawsuit and never been a success at the Supreme Court ending federal oversight of CMS. So you see the insanity of the blacks who controlled CMS back then and still do now.

Let's get diversity out of the schools. Let's start rewarding those that work hard and strive for an education.

Anonymous said...

Myers Park HS has an IB program only because it used to be an IB magnet for the system. They eliminated it to reduce overcrowding, but there was enough continued demand for the program within the MP homeschool zone to continue it. It has nothing to do with the percentage of free/reduced lunch at the school as Alicia maintains. In fact, I doubt many free/reduced lunch kids are in the IB program at all.

kcat said...

Missouri: what a ridiculous comment. you don't think Blacks deserve to go to good schools as well. You think they are not hard working? Guess my comment will probably get deleted

Ann Doss Helms said...

12:23 is right. I think Alicia was having a historical flashback on the race-based wait lists. If I remember right, they were actually black and non-black.

Anonymous said...

Just call them all Magnets Heath they all the same. Magnets are crowded for the top reason kids want out of their bad neighborhood schools. Fix the "home school" and you wont have crowded magnets. You would also challenge the Charters schools if you fix "home schools". Get it Heath offer a good product and the rest takes care of itself. Of course you would have to fire about half the fools that work for CMS with poor morale , but thats another story. Look at Randolph Middle school with its major bully issues. They bus all the east side kids to that school , because they dont want their kids going to east side home schools. Follow the school history .

Anonymous said...

I guess it was black and non-black vs. white and non-white. I've had groups of students choreograph dances based on famous modern black and white paintings. Or, are they white and black paintings? Always an interesting exercise...

My "historical flashback" isn't that long ago. My son was 168 on the list. I'm certain of this.


Anonymous said...

Magnet schools were originally established in the 1970's in response to court ordered busing mandates. The idea was to encourage voluntary integration. CMS established magnet schools later than many other cities. Magnet schools were traditionally located in areas easy to integrate or in areas that encouraged white middle-class families to travel from neighborhood schools.
I disagree that the IB program at Myers Park was closed to "outsiders" primarily to relieve overcrowding. Show me the stats. No, the Myers Park IB program was used for years to prop up overall test scores which masked a very real achievement gap between blacks & whites. The Myers Park IB program was also closed to District 6 students to prevent them from circumventing South Meck and to encourage them to attend the IB program at East Meck. None of this had anything to do with relieving overcrowding. Any chance you work in the Student Placement Office?


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Morehead is a dynamic institution with top notch teachers and a very visible and smart instructional leader. I have been extremely impressed with their progress and attention to academics, discipline issues and foremost, being a safe and orderly school. It is great to know that there are magnet schools that truly stick to their theme and purpose!

Anonymous said...

Alicia , Has anyone told you how great you are this week? Well take that for the month your awesome. Stop writing about how great MP and your "kid" is. Knucklehead.

Anonymous said...

Also, if race and poverty have nothing to do with where magnets are placed, then there shouldn't be any problem establishing IB programs at Hough
High & Ardrey Kell - of course closed to outsiders to relieve and prevent overcrowding. How about an
IB program at Providence Spring Elementary closed to anyone outside of District 6?

Hey, I attended a highly diverse arts magnet school. Believe it or not, I place high value on the ideal of magnet schools for the purpose of voluntary racial & socio-economic integration which I think benefits everyone. Where I have a problem is with
CMS nonsense that isn't straight-up or honest. Don't get me going on "projected" student enrollment numbers used as an excuse to manipulate student assignment. I've been there, done that on the "relieving overcrowding" excuse too. I just want CMS to be truthful about it's motives when it comes to magnet schools and student assignment. That's all. No more hidden agendas. Should CMS magnet schools have goals -beyond academics - related to race and poverty? If so, then let's be upfront about it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Middle Ring?

One of my children has a LD, knucklehead.


Anonymous said...

Hough and Ardrey Kell High Schools

$4,000 Spent on per pupil

Westside High Schools

$12,000 Spent on per puil

(This is not taking into account the extra $55 Million provided by Project Lift)

When will it ever end. This is not diversity. This is reverse racisim pure and simple. How many more decades of Trillions of $ spent with NO MEASUREABLE RESULTS?

Pamela Grundy said...

Hey Alicia,

I do disagree, as you predicted. Full magnets drain neighborhood schools, partial magnets improve them. Many families, including ours, have had marvelous experiences at partial magnets.

Split "black" and "nonblack" magnet wait lists ended with Judge Potter's ruling in 1999.

Myers Park was allowed to keep its IB program because its parents have a lot of political clout.

Anonymous said...

Bring out some of this "CLOUT" so that MOrrison can stop going door to door.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:23, I'm not ignoring Piedmont -- I wrote a front-page story about its success just a couple of weeks ago. And yes, once again Piedmont and Randolph had long waiting lists, while Ranson's IB program did not.

As many of you have articulated, the notion of "location" is a bit simplistic. In the case of magnets, it's not just the physical placement but the public perception of the "neighbors" in classrooms. A magnet full of high-performing students in an impoverished neighborhood can draw strong interest (witness Piedmont, or Irwin Avenue's full-magnet talent development program). Parents tend to be more wary of a magnet sharing space with a high-poverty and/or low-performing neighborhood school (such as IB programs at Ranson, West Charlotte and Harding). That's not to say such magnets can't be good for kids and schools. But it's a harder sell.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Myers Park got to keep their IB magnet because of a lot of political clout. "Relieving overcrowding". Give me a break.

So do you think partial magnets should be expanded? If
so, where?


Anonymous said...

"Full magnets drain neighborhood schools". Is Randolph Middle a full magnet? From which schools does it draw most of its students?

Pamela Grundy said...

For anyone not up on all of this, Anonymous 6:42, who does not seem to have the guts or grace to use his/her name, is questioning my decision to send my son to Randolph Middle School, after working (successfully so far!) to improve and re-integrate Shamrock Gardens Elementary.

Randolph Middle is a full magnet. It drains neighborhood schools, especially Eastway (where we are assigned), McClintock and Albermarle Road. The tragedy of Randolph came many years ago, when the school board chose to make it a full magnet, thus undercutting many nearby neighborhood middle schools, particularly McClintock. McClintock and Albermarle Road have regained some ground in recent years. Eastway, which in my mind has been completely and shamefully neglected by the district, has had a harder time.

When we put our son in kindergarten at Shamrock Gardens, we were essentially the only middle/upper middle-class family in the grade, and one of only a handful at the school. It was a great six years of working with fellow parents, staff and folks at the central office to build the school. Especially exciting: near the end of our time there, a group of other middle/upper middle class families joined us, and they are continuing and expanding on what we were able to do. I speak of middle/upper middle class families, because in general they are the ones with the time, resources and connections to make major differences for all the children at the schools their own children attend.

But when time came for middle school we were tired. Once again, we would have been faced with being essentially the only middle/upper middle class family at a school, and starting from scratch in terms of building a PTA and parent involvement. In that position, we could do a lot at an elementary school. For a variety of reasons, we concluded that it would be much more difficult at a middle school. So we decided we would take a break, send our son to Randolph, and continue to put our effort into Shamrock, which still needs a lot of support.

There have been times when we have been accused of "sacrificing" our son for our political ideals. We would never have done that. We had to work harder at Shamrock than we would have had to do had we followed the example of most of our neighbors and sent our son to a higher-wealth elementary. But we never felt that he was learning less at Shamrock than he would have done in other places. In many ways, he was learning more.

I am excited to see that other middle/upper middle class families assigned to high-poverty elementaries are starting to see that it is indeed possible to provide your child with an excellent education while also helping children whose parents do not have the same resources you enjoy. And that you learn a lot of valuable lessons from families whose life experiences differ from your own. I wish all those other families the best, and would be happy to talk to anyone who would like to know more about what we did at Shamrock. Perhaps someday, if the movement builds, we can take it to the middle schools.

Anonymous said...

Ann, nice new picture!

Again, I think what this shows is engaged parents and not engaged. I wish there was something we could do without getting the #$#$%#$ sewed out of us to really push and demand that parents step up to the plate.

I'm thankful my son is at Morehead STEM - I can't say enough good things about it. My daughter is at First Ward and unfortunately they are not quite at the same level. But, we're working on it!

Missouri said...

Pam you got that right about being exhausted. I was the PTSA president of a partial magnet urban junior high school. Guess which parents worked hard for "all" the kids and which parents did not work (at the school or a job) and only whined about making sure their kids did not get slighted.

One day, if this community does not go the way of Detroit, statues will be erected to Mr. Cappichione and Mr. Gauvreau.

Anonymous said...

You want to talk about a school/magnet that flew so high and then fell so hard? Marie G Davis

Pamela Grundy said...

Missouri, I said tired, not exhausted. Perhaps the difference is that I didn't waste energy resenting other parents. Most of the ones I knew did the best they could with what they had -- many of them proportionally more than I did. I had more, so it was easier to give more. I'm sorry you don't look at your experience that way. I'm sure you did a lot of good for a lot of kids.

Anonymous said...

MOrrison and the BofE


Wiley Coyote said...

Pam, Pam, Pam....

Randolph Middle School?....


When you look at the demographics, the school has almost the exact percentage makeup as CMS, at 30.3% White, 39.5% Black, 15.9% Hispanic and 8.1% Asian. Yet you complain it "drains other schools" including Eastway where your son is assigned by your neighborhood? Eastway by the way is less than 5% White and 92% ED.

Do I use the word hypocrite here?

You have written about your contempt of neighbors who chose to send their kids to schools other than Shamrock and also about how we should be integrating schools by whatever means possible, yet you choose to now send your child to a full magnet?

I've said to you before that your neighbors sending their kids to schools they felt were in their best interest was no different than you choosing to send your son to Shamrock. It's a parental choice, just like the choice you have now made to go to Randolph Middle.

I think you made a good decision.

Good luck to your son.

Pamela Grundy said...

Quit with the Pam, Pam, Pam stuff. It's unbecoming, especially for someone who hides behind a pseudonym. You can throwing my name around when you choose to reveal yours.

I'm well aware of the demographics of all the schools.

I stand by what I've said here, and what I've said in the past.

Beep, beep.

Unknown said...

I have three kids at Morehead STEM Academy in grades ranging from K-6. We absolutely LOVE the school! I drive them everyday as we do live outside the school radius for a bus. I do not hesitate as I have done this for the last 6.5 school years. The teachers and principals are wonderful. They push the kids in a great way to do their best; which in turn they do. I can see why the wait list is so high in numbers. We feel very fortunate to be a part of the Morehead family.

Wiley Coyote said...

Pam, Pam, Pam...

I also recall having a conversation about posting anonymously with you almost two years ago where you stated posting anonymously is okay.

Making the choice to send your child to a particular school versus another parent sending theirs elsewhere is no different than you making the choice to print your name and my choice not to.

Choice seems to be a concept that eludes you.

Anonymous said...

Pam, I find it hiliarous you state that Eastway has been completely and shamely neglected...I guess neglect only happens in your neck of the woods. Overcrowding in the suburbs with kids sitting on the floor at AKHS doesn't bother you? Kids in the suburbs having to buy all their textbooks doesn't bother you? Of course not-not your agenda. The suburban schools will continue to get ignore as long as people like you are around "crying." Look at the spending per student-how is that justified?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if certain activists had been a little less strident about their assignment vision for CMS, their neighbors' school choices, and the choice of many families to live in the suburbs, no one would care about those activists' own school choices.

Anonymous said...

Ann and readers,
May I strongly Suggest that we research a little bit deeper. To which magnet schools does the "staff of CMS" send their own children. Check out how many cms principals, counselors, teachers children are enrolled At Morehead STEM Academy. These are well educated, engaged parents that have "stacked" the deck. So may I please have a transfer to that school so that I can received my outstanding performance bonus??
Because the school to which I am now assigned (used to have high scores and state recognized programs) was sabotaged by CMS and given a harassing/bullying principal who has been reported all the way to Raleigh. SHAME on you MS for once again...blowing smoke up everyone's arses.