05 September, 2007

Gifted Elitism

I live in a very competitive area.  Although Northern Virginia is probably not as competitive as New York City, it might come close in some circles. 
One of the Diva's friends is being groomed to go to Harvard.  Her mom was quite concerned when her barely five year old daughter could not yet read. 
Other mothers discuss the myriad of extra activities they attend to support their children.  Some kids are involved in three or more activities a week in addition to their competitive private schools. 
Kids, at young ages, are talking about feeling pressure; they are stressed out. 
The school district here is fairly well established.  Given the competitive environment in which it functions, it tries to establish and maintain rules and guidelines.  It attempts to provide a solid education despite keeping an eye on test results.  I have yet to hear anything about the school and bending rules due to politics or parental desires.   
This is great.  In such a competitive environment where 90% of the parents believe that there child is "gifted" and where politics reins supreme, there is an institution that is willing to stick to its guns. 
Thus, I was a bit taken aback to hear, from a parent last week, that three students were admitted into the gifted program (which is where the high performers are educated) without the proper qualifications.  
What?  The district is loosening its standards?
Having been around these three students, this parent and others do not see how they could have received the test scores necessary for placement in the program.
Ah... so the parents truly don't know what the test scores were nor do they have access to the administrative process.  They are, in fact, judging these children based on what they believe to be "gifted" rather than accepting that intelligence is quite elusive at times.
I found this to be appalling.  
Each 2cd grade student in the district is given to tests.  The scores on those tests make the child eligible for consideration for the gifted program.  It is, in fact, one of the more fair systems of entry into a gifted program that I have experienced.  Each child has a chance - even those who do not speak English.  
A teacher explained to me last spring that she is never sure who will be admitted and who will not.  She has seen the most successful child in the class do poorly on the test while a child with  less class participation and achievement will ace it.  A teacher can't always tell. 
Apparently these parents think they can.
They also think that these parents played politics in order to get their children into the program.    
Listening to these parents comments I felt demoralized.  I truly want to believe that the district is adhering to their own rules and guidelines.  I felt like I was living in another place and time - people complaining about someone moving into the area and destroying the property values. 
Which leaves me wondering - why would a parent set his or her child up to potentially fail?  Is reputation or being able to say "my child..." that much more important than the child's success?
Have parents lost sight of what it is to be a child?


Wombat said...

"Gifted" always makes me think the child was given as a token of appreciation by someone.

"Was your child gifted?"

"No, we chose her ourselves."

Michael C said...

The twins started kindergarten in July and I am amazed at how accelerated even grade K has become.

They are doing well and I am glad, but trust me, my girls will most certainly continue getting to be kids.

It reminds me of a great country song called Let Them Be Little. A little off subject, but kids should get to be kids.

Ryan said...

Parents want to live vicariously through their children, albeit unconscionable throughout the entire process.... I don't think most are aware they are doing it, or if they are, will make excuses as to why.

My folks tried hard to find suitable education for me because I too was 'gifted'. As it turned out I was mostly Autistic (PDD) and mostly bordering on retardation. My parents decided to not have me tested anymore for 'gifted' schools.

Leiselb said...

Yes. But thank God at least YOU haven't....the Diva is lucky.

Carrie said...

From the sounds of it - yeah... they have. I know that college is important but at 2nd grade? C'mon...

The Exception said...

Wombat - Yeah, that might be the proper use of the word but this is, after all, the US!

MC - Kindergarten is an entirely different world than it was when I was there - ages ago.

Carrie - Yeah, I know. Parents need to lighten up just a tad.

Leisel B - She has me... which means I get to deal with the competitive environment to protect her! ;)

Ryan - Yes, parents try to live through their kids. I don't think it is all of that though. I think it is also about parents using their kids to enhance their status. Sad, but that is what I have observed in some cases.

And Ryan, every kid has a gift or a talent - every person has something to offer. ;)

KennethSF said...

It always tickles me when I find out that someone who became a genius later in life (like Einstein) actually didn't do very well when they were in school.

guygm said...

Wow... that sounds competitive. I have mixed feelings about all this emphasis on school at a young age. It is important to be a kid and just go fishing...

AaroN said...

Check my online store for a new bumper sticker: "My child has lower test scores than yours and STILL got into the gifted program."

The Exception said...

GuyGm - It is truly a sad state of being. Kids in other countries are still kids.

Kenneth - Yeah, you just never know where, when, or how intelligence or talents will emerge. Each has something.

Aaron - That is a good one!

cathouse teri said...

Yes. Parents are basically poo-poo heads.