LAUSD’s New 35 Magnet Programs

On May 9, with very little fanfare, the LAUSD school board approved the creation of 35 new magnets for the 2018-19 school year.

That is a huge jump.

The district added only 14 new magnets in 2016, and 13 in 2017. Adding 35 magnets substantially increases the magnet student spots. It will open approximately 7,778 magnet spots over the upcoming years.

This subject is very personal to me, and I will admit my personal bias. I went to LAUSD magnet schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Now, I am a magnet teacher in LAUSD. I have great things to say about the magnet program.

But I am just curious who my new neighbors are.

For a full interactive map, click the map above.

Interestingly, there are clusters of new magnets in several spots. Winnetka is getting 4 new magnets, North Hollywood/Valley Glen is getting 3, Highland Park is getting 3. This suggests that schools might have been looking around and say “Hey – if they get a magnet, we should probably get a magnet, too” in order to stay competitive.

While the map may make the distribution appear even, when we look at the seat distribution by local district, it is relatively uneven.

Local Districts South and Central are getting the most new magnet seats, while East and West have the fewest new seats. This is not to say that West or East has less magnets – just that they aren’t opening up new ones.

Every magnet also has a theme – a guiding emphasis that brings the school together. When it comes to the theme for these new magnets, the trend toward STEM, STEAM, DREAMS continues (Yes, DREAMS may be the greatest acronym of all time – Design, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math and Science).

Public Service comes in a close second, but only because many of the Public Service Magnets are actually STEM schools in disguise – Medicine and Health foci get lumped in with Public Service, and not STEM.

But will adding all these magnets have a substantial change on student outcomes? There are arguments to be made for either side. Magnets have consistently outperformed their residential school, but as a recent commenter on my blog pointed out, that may be due to a selection bias.

To put my own opinion in here, I don’t really care if there is a selection bias. Here’s why:

We need to go back to basics when we talk about magnets. Magnets are an integration program. They are designed to encourage parents of different backgrounds to send their kids to school together. It is opt-in bussing. And when parents opt-in to bussing, of course there is a selection bias. That is kind of the point – to find those parents who are progressive enough to say “yeah, its cool if my student gets exposed to other cultures that I may not be familiar with.”

So when people ask me my thoughts on magnets, I generally turn it back around and say, “what are your thoughts on integration and bussing?” If you can opt-in to that conversation, then these 35 schools might be the right place for you.


3 Replies to “LAUSD’s New 35 Magnet Programs”

  1. Do you happen to know if any of these are language immersion programs? Does that fall under communication arts?

    1. School Data Nerd says:

      Yes – the program at Franklin High is dual language Immersion with Spanish. They actually fall under language arts. There are other immersion programs that are not magnets as well.

  2. Mean Old Man says:


    Thanks for shedding some more light on the rise of magnets (and charters; and with it, the fall of traditional schools). I was not aware of the 62 new magnets. That’s enough to piss off the Good Humor Man. Sidebar: how do they only account for only 7,778 students? Even if you are just talking about the 35 new ones, that’s a low number, no? (200/school).

    Anyway, to the points in your post…..I’ll spare you a complete re-hashing of the case against magnets/charters, and FOR traditional schools. Suffice to say, this is all a zero-sum game. As magnets/charters do better, traditional schools will do worse. This is why converting the entire district/county/state/nation to magnets and charters wouldn’t work. I believe that, deep down, most so-called reformers know this to be true. This troubles me. More troubling is the lack of concern for the students left behind in traditional PUBLIC schools, the ones without active, informed parents, the ones with parents who don’t vote. Our policy makers should be ashamed…..

    Firstly, I’m not surprised you have great things to say about magnets. They are usually good schools (by definition, or self-selection). But this misses the point. In this case, what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. And a PUBLIC education system should focus foremost on the gander.

    I strongly disagree with your assertion that magnets are basically about integration. I don’t know if the original proponents of magnets believed this way back when. Let’s say they did. Be that as it may, the cause of “integration” today is a weak attempt at moral cover for this otherwise immoral program. I realize those are strong words, but when a policy (and it’s really the tremendous expansion of the program that I am talking about) serves to undermine the education of our most neglected students, I don’t know what else to call it.

    In truth, magnets are safe havens for well-informed, motivated parents to send their kids. I can’t imagine there are many parents whose primary objective when sending their kids to a magnet is integration, or cultural diversity. Progressive? Please. You mean like voting for Hillary Clinton was progressive? It’s obviously the better education parents desire. Ironically, the magnets I know are not diverse at all. I teach in the Southeast. There are not a lot of whites, blacks, or Asians being bused in. Are there any? These are Latino-filled Magnets sitting right next to Latino-filled traditional schools. Nerd, there’s probably a post waiting for you on that last question. But even if you can find diverse magnets, that does not distract from the damaging effect they have on traditional public schools. And why do elementary schools have magnets? To me, it’s pretty gross that LAUSD starts scooping off the cream at such a young age. But it’s hard to fight the urge to create schools with better test scores, while at the same time placating parents demanding choice.

    Finally, I think you unwittingly revealed the true motivations of people in support of more magnets when you wrote: “This suggests that schools might have been looking around and say ‘Hey – if they get a magnet, we should probably get a magnet, too’ in order to stay competitive.”

    100, Nerd. 100.

    PS: I have DREAM, too….fewer magnets and charters….better traditional PUBLIC schools.
    PPS: I voted for Hillary. Damn.

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