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‘Tis the season to celebrate HISD’s magnetic appeal

2013 December 4
by HISD Communications

HISD’s “magnetic” personality is on proud display these days.  After a series of magnet awareness events – including a packed School Choice Fair and a series of community meetings and campus tours – our magnet school application period is in full swing.

This year, we’ve added an online application process, and at last count, this convenient option has attracted more than 23,000 applications.

You have only until December 20 to fill out the forms and submit them either online or directly to schools.  (Remember there’s additional paperwork involved, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute.)

This magnet frenzy is a visible testimonial to the popularity of our array of school choices in HISD. I will get the opportunity this week to talk about our programs in Washington, D.C., as the keynote speaker  at a conference sponsored by the Department of Education, explaining to educators from throughout the U.S. the impressive history and optimistic future of HISD’s magnets.

HISD opened its first magnet in 1971 – the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts – in and in 1975, the district created the magnet model that has been embraced across the nation. To avoid the anger and strife that forced busing brought to many cities faced with federal desegregation orders, HISD’s Superintendent Billy Reagan came up an ingenious notion.  Why not get families and youngsters to ride on school buses willingly, by creating specialized programs that they would be eager to leave their neighborhoods to attend?

Spanning more than three decades, HISD’s magnet program has been incredibly successful. Leaders in Houston’s medical institutions had their start at DeBakey High School, entertainers and artists launched careers from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, attorneys and law enforcement officials from the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, to name only a few.  Over the years, though, through lack of oversight, a number of programs had lost their magnetic properties and focus.

My message in Washington will include those successes and an honest explanation of our shortcomings – and what we’ve done in the past three years to renew and expand upon our magnets. I’ll be talking about our steps toward accountability and review, now in place. We’ll also be showcasing our newest programs and partnerships – such as the Energy Institute High School and the Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan Middle School – that will provide early, focused coursework and career training for students while fulfilling our mission to provide an educated workforce for Houston’s top industries.

Our vast school choices are one of HISD’s most appealing features. Of course, many of you already know that, as evidenced by the deluge of applications. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with all the options, simply click on And put a big, red circle around December 20 on your calendar.

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