Hi likemom, and welcome to GreatSchools Parent Community.
I can't speak directly for San Diego, but here in Los Angeles, the answer is really, "it depends." There are clearly great public schools in San Diego. The difference between a magnet and a charter can be as little as the fact that a parent filled out an application to get their child in. But they can be far more different, as well. Magnets are built upon a theme and "draw" children from many school boundaries. Charters work outside the district rules and are run semi-autonomously. A great place to start is with the GreatSchools library and an article on school choice. One's located here: http://www.greatschools.net/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/school-choice-your-options.gs?content=1163
my daughter is currently enrolled to Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas, a charter school. she complains to me all the time how she loathes the school. as a parent, i thought i'd give a charter school a try (my daughter went to a public elementary school) the standards sounded well and the education sounded high. i discovered charter schools are sometimes over priced, but here their dress code is strictly enforced. they can only wear lite blue shirts with the school logo and certain brands of pants, skirts, and shorts. the uniforms are also overpriced and when the clothing piece(s) are in back order, they sometimes give you the peice after the school year starts or give you the wrong piece of clothing they always have to have their shirt tucked in or they receive a detention. i love the discipline there, but they seem to over the top with appearance when they should be improving the education. i thought that this school offered the best i can give to my daughter, but now i see that charter schools are'nt the best. she was originally going to attend Bridger middle schools's IB program, but moved her to Coral. i want her to attend coral once again, the standards are only a bit lower than the school she longs to attend, Roy W. Martin Middle school, which also offers the IB program overall, public schools that offer the IB (a.k.a. magnet program) are far better than charter schools.34560
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