Interest in law magnet programs has grown substantially in the 1990s. In 1992, a survey of law magnets identified 69 programs in 15 states. This report summarizes information provided by 24 predominantly urban law magnet programs that responded to a 1994 survey. The schools in the sample represent the spectrum of sizes, organizational structures, and settings.
Law magnet programs conform to the stipulation by the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that magnet schools offer innovative instructional approaches to attract students with various racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. Such approaches might include educational programs and services that comprise the mission of an entire school while others might serve as supplementary enrichment to a standard curriculum. The emphasis on attracting students of different backgrounds reflects the racial integration goal many magnet programs were created to fulfill.
Numerous magnet schools throughout the nation were created in response to a Kansas City, Missouri, legal case in the late 1970s. At that time, Kalima Jenkins and several other African-American students successfully sued the school district for not moving "with all deliberate speed" to dismantle racial segregation in its system, as required by "Brown v. Board of Education" (1955). This case is known as "Brown II" because it came to the Supreme Court one year after the original "Brown" decision in order to resolve the issue of how to implement the ruling of "Brown I." Kalima Jenkins' case led to federal court supervision of the district's desegregation plans. Magnet schools were among the remedies initiated to remove vestiges of racial segregation.
There are national, state, and local LRE programs. The degree of the institutionalization of LRE in the school or district varies greatly. Sometimes LRE is brought to classrooms through the initiative of innovative teachers who act without institutional support. But LRE can also be organized as a district-wide program, usually through infusion into the curriculum from kindergarten through high school. Law magnet programs are examples of LRE at the most comprehensive end of the continuum. In them, developing an understanding of the law and exploring careers in the legal professions permeate the formal and informal curriculum. Although many students choose magnet schools because they are interested in pursuing careers in law-related professions, the primary purpose of these schools is to prepare students for citizenship.
Another interesting aspect of the law magnet student population is the gender balance. Twenty-two out of 24 responding schools report a majority of female students. One inner city school reports that over 90% of the students are female. Only one school reports a male majority. Within the high school setting, the size of the law magnet program can be large, with an enrollment of 100-240 students. Smaller programs may have 25-100 students.
Harry Garvin, Legal Coordinator of a program in Savannah, Georgia, is one good example of an effective fund raiser. Garvin has received funding from various sources by seeking lists of educational grantors from the United States Department of Education, Department of Commerce, and state department of education. Mr. Garvin also contacts the Georgia state departments of industry and tourism to request an annual list of major industries moving to his state. He believes that a new company is more inclined than an established one to provide funds because it probably has not yet been approached by many local charitable organizations. Being new to a community provides a strong incentive to seek favorable publicity. Dr. Garvin has received in-kind donations from local cable companies, television stations, telephone and cellular phone companies, computer/software companies, and military bases.
Law magnet programs emphasize active learning opportunities. Most programs include mock trials, community service, and internships. Survey respondents indicate that mediation is a component of more than 80% of the programs. Mentor programs are used by almost 75%. Many programs include trips to law-related settings, especially the courts.
Inservice training for teachers is widely available. Many national and state LRE centers and projects schedule professional development conferences and annual summer institutes for teachers. They also develop curricula and instructional materials, including videotapes and software. For more information about teacher training, contact the National Law-Related Education Resource Center of the American Bar Association.
Finally, contacting existing magnet programs can assist groups in shaping the direction of their own new programs. Site visits provide concrete examples of how programs can be structured as well as personal opportunities for answering questions.
For a list of law magnet programs and other information about all aspects of law-related education, contact the National Law-Related Education Resource Center, American Bar Association/Youth Education, 541 N. Fairbanks Court, Chicago, IL 60611-3314; telephone: (312) 988-5735; e-mail: email@example.com <REFERENCES>REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
The following list of resources includes references used to prepare this Digest. The items followed by an ED number are available in microfiche and/or paper copies from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS). For information about prices, contact EDRS, 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, Virginia 22153-2852; telephone numbers are (703) 440-1400 and (800) 443-3742. Entries followed by an EJ number, annotated monthly in CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION (CIJE), are not available through EDRS. However, they can be located in the journal section of most larger libraries by using the information provided or requested through Interlibrary Loan.
Clinchy, Evans. "The Changing Nature of Our Magnet Schools." NEW SCHOOLS, NEW COMMUNITIES 11 (Winter 1995): 47-50. EJ 502 469.
FINAL REPORT OF THE U.S. OFFICE OF EDUCATION STUDY GROUP ON LAW-RELATED EDUCATION. Washington, DC: U.S. Government PrintingOffice, 1979. ED 175 737.
Hunter, Alyce. "Magnet Magic: A Consideration of Choice and Change." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, New Orleans, LA, February 1994. ED 369 152.
Leming, Robert S. ESSENTIALS OF LAW-RELATED EDUCATION. ERIC Digest. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education; Chicago, IL: American Bar Association's National Law-Related Education Resource Center, 1995. ED 390 779.
MAGNET SCHOOLS: PROMOTING EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND QUALITY EDUCATION. Washington, DC.: Office for Civil Rights, 1989. ED 343 194.
Steel, Lauri, and Roger Levine. EDUCATIONAL INNOVATIONS IN MULTIRACIAL CONTEXTS: THE GROWTH OF MAGNET SCHOOLS IN AMERICAN EDUCATION. Palo Alto, CA: American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, 1994. ED 370 232.