By Ann Doss Helms
Ten Charlotte-Mecklenburg magnet schools won national recognition this week, as officials reminded parents that their time is running out to apply for 2010-11 magnet seats.
Students who want to get into the main magnet lottery must apply by 10 p.m. Monday. As of Tuesday night, 8,521 students had applied. That’s down a couple hundred from the same time last year – not surprising, Superintendent Peter Gorman said, because the district eliminated some magnets.
Gorman applauded the schools that won awards from Magnet Schools of America, a nonprofit association focused on the nation’s 4,000 magnets.
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The association rated Idlewild Elementary; Collinswood and Smith language academies, and Davidson, Piedmont and Randolph International Baccalaureate middle schools as 2010 schools of excellence. Four elementaries were named schools of distinction: Myers Park Traditional, Oakhurst, Oaklawn Language and Tuckaseegee.
Idlewild, an east Charlotte school that combines neighborhood students with a magnet for gifted students, is being honored for the fifth year in a row. Such “partial magnets” have been controversial, with some board members questioning their effectiveness. Gorman and Magnet Director Jeff Linker said the three partial magnets honored – Oakhurst and Tuckaseegee, join Idlewild – demonstrate how such programs work best, with the magnet teaching techniques and themes shaping the whole school.
The magnet specialty “can’t just be an add-on,” Gorman said. “It’s got to be part of the fabric of the school.”