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2-Minute Charlotte: Magnet schools have a problem with diversity

Students Stephnie Quinteros (15), Elyse Manhollan (15), Maria Patino (15) and Estefany Carcamo (15) at work Monday Dec. 9, 2013, during their first-block math class online in a classroom designed as a digital lounge at the "iMeck Academy" magnet at Cochrane Collegiate Academy
Students Stephnie Quinteros (15), Elyse Manhollan (15), Maria Patino (15) and Estefany Carcamo (15) at work Monday Dec. 9, 2013, during their first-block math class online in a classroom designed as a digital lounge at the "iMeck Academy" magnet at Cochrane Collegiate Academy The Charlotte Observer

2-Minute Charlotte gets you caught up on the day’s most important local news before your coffee has a chance to cool down. Today’s edition: 398 words. Expected reading time: 1 minute, 59 seconds.

Magnet schools in Charlotte have a diversity problem. That might catch you off guard, because they often have more varied racial and socioeconomic mix than their neighboring schools. But that’s one of the findings of a new report presented to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this week.

Consultants say CMS should do a better job marketing magnet programs to English learners and children with disabilities. The district should also do a better job providing bus transportation to get kids in the door – and partial magnets might be creating more problems than solutions.

THE BACKGROUND: Back in January, CMS said they’d spend $63,000 to bring in consultants with Magnet Schools of America. The study was billed as a way to see which magnet programs need to be expanded, combined or eliminated – as well as a way to be eligible for more grants. The results were originally supposed to come out in May. The school board got its first look this week. It’s the first step in what’s going to be a full overhaul of how students are assigned to schools in Charlotte.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Magnet schools in Charlotte are a huge deal. More than 20,000 students attend a magnet program, and they’re viewed as a key component of the district’s student assignment system. Parents at schools like Myers Park Traditional have been worried about what the review would show and whether their programs would be on the chopping block. This first report doesn’t come close to any specific recommendations, but shows the direction CMS might go in. Diversity is also a pressing and emotional issue in CMS, and some members of the school board have said they need to do something dramatic about it.

What people are talking about

MATTHEWS MAYOR PRO TEM RESIGNS: Joe Pata was arrested and charged with beating his girlfriend, and has now stepped down after a police report shows disturbing details.

MAN RESCUED FROM 6-FOOT HOLE: The hole may have been part of Blue Line construction.

What to watch for

KERRICK TESTIMONY TO BEGIN NEXT WEEK: A full jury has been selected, and testimony is scheduled to start Monday in the trial of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man, Jonathan Ferrell.

CONFEDERATE FLAG RALLY IN MONROE: A group of people in Monroe have gotten permission to host a rally in support of the Confederate flag downtown. They say it’s not a “hate rally.” No word yet on counter-protests.

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