A magnet school is a specialized school that does not have a neighborhood attendance boundary, in most cases. Magnet schools focus their curriculum on one particular subject area, such as math/science, humanities, Montessori, or world language. In most cases, elementary magnet schools offer transportation to students who live more than 1.5 miles but less than 6 miles from the school. Contrary to widely held beliefs, magnet schools do not provide an accelerated curriculum â€“ they are designed for all students, and students are randomly selected through a computerized lottery.
Used as a primary tool for desegregation under the Desegregation Plan, magnet schools were first introduced in the Chicago Public Schools system in 1973, with the inception of Disney Magnet School. Within the next few years, three additional magnet schools were established, Black Magnet School, Whitney Young Magnet High School, and Chicago Metropolitan High School. Several additional magnet schools were established in the late 1970s as part of the onset of the systemâ€™s educational plan entitled Access to Excellence. With the implementation of the Student Desegregation Plan for the Chicago Public Schools in 1981, a total of 41 magnet schools were established. The system currently has a total of 52 magnet schools; 46 elementary and 6 high schools. (Some of these schools are also reported in other categories, such as GEAP or Selective Enrollment Schools.)