Tacoma awarded No Child Left Behind grant

Tacoma Public Schools will receive a $955,502 three-year grant to improve student achievement and increase educational options for parents through magnet schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced Monday.

On behalf of Secretary Paige, regional representative Donna Foxley presented the grant Monday to local officials at Bryant Montessori School in Tacoma.

“Magnet schools are important options for students and parents within the public education system,” Secretary Paige said. “Through their innovative programs and rigorous academics, they work to narrow the achievement gap and give choices to children currently trapped in schools that need improvement. Magnet schools help to fulfill No Child Left Behind’s promise that all children deserve schools that work for them.”

The Magnet Schools Assistance program provides competitive grants to help local school districts create magnet schools that are operated under a court-ordered or federally approved voluntary desegregation plan. Approximately 50 school districts will share more than $108 million in grants.

Magnet schools are public schools that offer a special curriculum capable of attracting substantial numbers of students of different racial backgrounds.

Local school districts can use the schools to enhance their ability to provide public school choice to parents whose children attend schools that are not making progress according to state standards, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The No Child Left Behind Act is the bipartisan landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America’s schools by closing the achievement gap among groups of students, offering more flexibility to states, giving parents more options and teaching students based on what works.

Under the law’s strong accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including those with disabilities, achieve academically.

The magnet schools grant program is housed within the Office of Innovation and Improvement, which Secretary Paige created in December 2002 to make strategic investments in and widely distribute information about promising education practices.

The office also leads the department’s efforts to provide more information to parents about the options that the No Child Left Behind Act affords them for their child’s education.