Miami Schools

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Ah, beautiful Miami! Sun, sand, and palm trees. It’s also the town of opportunities for most students in Kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade who attend Miami Schools. Magnet programs are abundant, and surrounding communities like Coral Gables and Aventura teem with innovative and exciting schools. Of course, Miami Schools also have their fair share of problems, as well. Budget concerns and dropout rates continue to burden the district.

One of Miami Schools’ success stories is Coral Gables. The town has a highly respected magnet program, which resides at Coral Gables High School. It received a Magnet School of Distinction Award at the 24th Annual Magnet Schools of America Conference in Omaha, Nebraska.

Also on the horizon for Miami Schools is a new International Studies Magnet High School, which will open near Coral Gables High School. It will offer intensive study in foreign languages and culture. Seven hundred of Miami Schools’ students will spend half of each day learning the history and cultures of Europe entirely in a foreign language. It will be the first and only high school of its kind in the country! The curriculum will be based on the successful international education programs already in place at Miami Schools like Carver Elementary, Sunset Elementary, and Ponce de Leon Middle School, all of which teach French, German, and Spanish. Not only are students immersed in a foreign language, they are instructed in a foreign culture; just as other students in France, Germany, or Spain would be. English isn’t spoken at all during the foreign language part of the day. It’s as if schools from those countries have been scooped up and set back down into the Miami Schools’ district of Miami-Dade. The goal of the program is to produce students who are proficient in a foreign language.

Another success story for Miami Schools, at least so far, is the new ACES charter school, located in Aventura. The school’s student body population began at 425. The city also has constructed a 300-seat middle school expansion of ACES. The charter school is managed under contract by Charter Schools USA. ACES boasts gifted teachers at each grade level, personalized assessment and objectives, a character building curriculum, four computers installed in every classroom, a full-time ESOL teacher, a science lab, and specialty classes not only in music, art, P.E., and media, but in computers, Spanish, and science.

It’s not all roses for Miami Schools, however. 40 percent of students don’t graduate from high school. An influx of younger families over the past ten years requires more classrooms to serve the new large-scale residential projects that are popping up. Rising housing prices in the Miami Schools area force many young families to move into older condos. This triggers a demographic shift and effects what each school system receives from property taxes.

Also, the statewide classroom reduction amendment, passed by voters in 2002 has become a challenge for Miami Schools’ administrators, as they must rely more and more on portable classrooms. Miami Schools face many challenges, yet are still able to create and maintain some exciting and innovation school choices.

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