N.J.'s Top Ten High Schools: 7 Magnets, 2 Traditional, 1 Charter

U.S. News and World Report issued their high school rankings this week and, as usual, most of New Jersey’s top high schools are county magnet schools. One of the top ten is a traditional public schools, Princeton High School.  One of the top ten is a charter school, North Star Academy Charter School in Newark. The other eight are exclusive magnet schools. Elizabeth High School is part of Elizabeth Public Schools but, unlike the city's traditional high schools, has admissions requirements similar to the other magnets, which are run by county vocational-technical school districts.

Here’s the full list:
1) Biotechnology High School
2) High Technology High School
3) Bergen County Technical High School - Teterboro
4) Dr Ronald Mcnair High School
5) Bergen County Academies
6) Academy Of Allied Health And Science
7) Princeton High School
8)  North Star Academy Charter School of Newark
9)  Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies
10) Elizabeth High School
All 21 counties in N.J. have vo-tech schools but only some have these exclusive magnets with rigorous admissions criteria and the ability to “cream off” top-performing students. Like charters, magnets require tuition payments from local districts, but they incite none of the vitriol typically associated with other forms of public school choice, probably because magnet teachers are all unionized. As such, magnet schools in N.J. are a form of school choice that’s politically palatable to the usual anti-choice crowd.

The magnet schools on this top ten list offer more resources to students than those in traditional district schools. The cost per pupil at Bergen Academies, for example, is  $27,327. For comparison, the cost per pupil at Hackensack High School, the city where Bergen Academies is located, is $15,298.

Save our Schools-NJ and NJEA, both opponents of school choice via charter schools in Newark and Camden, have no problem with school choice via magnets in wealthy Bergen and Monmouth County. Go figure.

Correction: I originally posted that Elizabeth High School is a traditional high school. It's not, and I apologize for the error.

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