Magnet's weakened pull Waning excitement over technology program brings some balance.

April 09, 1997

THE OVERHAUL of the Howard County school system's technology education program was designed to prep students for a broad range of blue-collar and white-collar jobs, but the revised curriculum never pretended to cover the entire spectrum of careers. It certainly was not meant to be the right academic course for all county high school students. More Howard eighth-graders have come to realize that over the last several months.

A substantial number of next year's freshmen who gained acceptance into the new technology magnet program chose not to enroll after taking time to weigh all the factors.

The Sun reported that 70 students declined admission into the innovative program. That is good news for some applicants who at first appeared to be excluded due to a clumsy lottery arranged to select youngsters for the program. An awkward drawing last month randomly dealt joy and sadness to students who wanted to enroll in the program at River Hill and Long Reach high schools.

The students who have declined admission have made it possible for others such as Daniel Hanson to enter the program next fall. His mother, Livia Hanson, told a reporter that they were preparing for Glenelg High until "we got this wonderful phone DTC call" from officials informing them that a technology magnet slot had opened at River Hill.

The school system has little reason to be satisfied that the number of students not accepted has been reduced slightly, from 350 to 280. Still left outside are students such as Mount View Middle School eighth-grader Rachel Jacober. Rachel needs nine more students to decline admission at River Hill before she can join her twin sister, Rebecca, in the magnet program there.

The overflow originally occurred because students were attracted to an exciting new program that Howard school officials once suggested would be open to all. So many eighth-graders turning down admission will help balance the number of technology magnet seats available and the number of students who want them.

It's just the latest hairpin curve in an emotional roller coaster carelessly designed by county school officials.

Pub Date: 4/09/97

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