Many parents think that since magnet schools are "better" schools, their children should attend a magnet school if at all possible. However, while magnets are often "better" schools, they are not one-size-fits-all.
Factors to consider include:
The school's theme - Each magnet school has a specialized theme that should be considered when choosing a magnet school, along with the child's interests and abilities. For example, a child interested in performing arts might be well-suited for a Fine, Performing and Visual Arts magnet program but ill-suited for a Math/Science/Technology magnet program. Or a child may not be able to handle the extra academic workload at Gifted/High-Ability magnet programs. Carefully consider whether your child and the school will be a good fit for each other.
The reputation of the school and its staff - You'll need to talk with other families who know the school you're considering, but this is the only way you'll be able to find out how responsive the teachers and staff are to parents, and what the atmosphere at the school is like. Again, this information will help you determine whether the school will be a good fit for your child.
The school's facilities and programs - Some magnet schools are attached to other schools or share their campus, while other magnet schools are free-standing and have their own campus. Magnet schools that share a campus with non-magnet schools may have access to greater facilities and programs. For example, I know one parent who chose not to apply to a free-standing magnet because the school did not offer any after-school care programs.
Location - LAUSD will provide transportation if the student resides certain boundaries. The district recommends that parents contact LAUSD's Transportation Branch at (323) 342-1340 before applying to a magnet school to determine if the closest pick-up/drop-off point is a reasonable distance from your home.
Other options - I know many parents whose children attended a magnet elementary school, but went on to a different type of program in middle school. Many schools have other educational programs, such as GATE (gifted and talented), SAS (School for Advanced Studies), academies, learning communities, and more. Like my friends, you may find that one of these programs, rather than a magnet program, is the better fit for your child.
Learn more about LAUSD Magnet Schools here.
Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.