As school choice becomes a mantra of 21st century education reform, especially for the growing charter school movement, traditional public schools also are embracing free-market competition, the Washington Post reports. Tens of thousands of Washington area children crisscross their districts to attend specialized science, foreign language or performing-arts programs in regular public schools. The mission of these choice programs is changing, though. Magnet schools, offering specialized curriculum to attract students beyond neighborhood boundaries, were created in the 1960s as tools for voluntary desegregation. But as courts dismantled school assignment policies based on race, many school districts have played down—or abandoned—their diversity goals…

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staff and wire services reports