Letter to the editor: Lincoln school could be magnet

Editor’s note: This is excerpt from a letter Lincoln resident Ellie Bryant wrote to Mount Abraham Unified School District Superintendent Patrick Reen following an Aug. 9 meeting with Reen and fellow Lincoln residents Sally Baldwin and Jackie Tuxill. It is printed with permission of the author.

Our young people need to learn about our world, how to heal it, and how to protect it. The location of Lincoln Community School next to a river and adjacent to the generous gift of 125 acres of land is well set up to be a center for ecological education for the study of geology, pedology (soil science), meteorology, climatology, hydrology, botany, biology, cosmology, entomology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics. I’d add to that list literacy and the arts associated with learning centered around conservation and the environment.

According to Margaret Spellings, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education:

“For many years, magnet schools offered families the dominant form of public school choice in America, first appearing in the 1960s as a tool to increase racial desegregation and resolve educational inequities…. In addition to maintaining diverse student populations and advancing school choice, magnet schools are reversing declining district enrollments (emphasis added) turning around low student performance, and serving as laboratories for promising education practices.

In the 2018/19 school year, there were 3,484 magnet schools throughout the United States. These schools have lots of advantages, including increasing enrollment, incubating innovative educational practices, expanding a district’s program of school choice, and, underlying everything else, closing achievement gaps.

Raymond Academy for Engineering in Houston, for example, is a K–4 magnet school that received “Exemplary School” status from the Texas Education Agency for innovative curriculum infused with real-world, project-based learning experiences. Student performance at Raymond has increased each year and now surpasses district and state levels in showing almost universal proficiency in reading and math among Hispanic, low-income, English as a second language (ESL), and special education students.

Other magnet schools show similar results. If the MAUSD board were to agree to designate LCS as a magnet school with a focus on environmental studies, students from across the district could elect to apply for acceptance, and students from outside the district could tuition in. Some successful magnet schools have a waiting list for acceptance. Not only would the success of such a program increase LCS enrollment to a level that would satisfy Act 46 requirements for keeping the school open, but the initiative would be a feather in the cap of the MAUSD administration.

I sincerely hope you and the board will consider this proposal. No one … wants to see the demise of Lincoln Community School.

Louella Bryant


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