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February 23, 2006 - 12:34 pm

Thanks to a href=””Soccer Dad /afor pointing out this article in the a href=””emWashington Post /em/athat discusses replacing the Gifted programs in schools in Montgomery County, Maryland with magnet classes for everyone:br /br /blockquoteBut this fall, educators decided to try a different approach. Instead of selecting a few hundred students for traditional school magnets, officials opened magnet programs at three middle schools to /br /”We’ve changed from labeling children to labeling services,” Horn said. “It’s not whether you’re gifted, it’s what’s appropriate for you.”/blockquotebr /br /Oh sure, this method will really fool the kids–think they don’t understand the hypocrisy of leveling the playing field? Of course they do. In my daughter’s school, when the mentally handicapped kids are called over the intercom for special classes, they announce, “Will all of the ‘Smart’ kids come to Room 101.” The whole school, from kindergarteners to 5th graders look at each other in amusement that the school is calling the handicapped kids smart. How silly is that? And how silly is it to let teachers observe kids to determine if they are “gifted” instead of allowing for some set of standards to do the sorting for them?br /br /blockquoteAt two elementary schools, Georgian Forest in Silver Spring and Burning Tree in Bethesda, that means piloting an approach in which students are not formally labeled “gifted and talented” solely through traditional testing. Instead, teachers spend more time watching how individual students perform and place them based on those observations. The change doesn’t necessarily mean that all students will be in the highest-level reading group, but it is a strategy for reaching out to kids who might have been overlooked in the past, said Georgian Forest Principal Donald D. Masline./blockquotebr /br /And their remedy for the lack of diversity just gets sillier:br /br /blockquoteEducators hope that the new approach will help them address why black and Hispanic students continue to lag behind white and Asian counterparts in achievement and why so few take advanced classes or are admitted into accelerated programs./blockquotebr /br /I don’t see how this question is being answered by having teachers make biased decisions about which kids to place in these “gifted” programs–what does “observation” have to do with whether a child is gifted? Shouldn’t there be some actual measure of what a person knows than whether or not the teacher thinks they “look smart?” This is no better than calling the mentally handicapped children smart. Wouldn’t the proper way to answer the question of why Blacks and Hispanics are lagging behind Whites and Asians be to conduct research on the factors that may be causing the discrepancies and remedy those rather than setting up a phony group of gifted students whose only gift may be that they have a teacher who holds self-esteem and looking diverse in higher regard than children actually learning anything?br /br /With such unscientific inquiry, it is no wonder more and more parents are homeschooling or turning to private schools to educate their children. I foresee that the more schools substitute “diversity” for education, the more a href=””parents will take flight /afrom the public schools.

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