Journeymom, I have also found this thread frustrating. There are a quite a few disparate beliefs and attitudes that have been raised but I don't have the energy to address everything that I take issue with. KimbleJ, I agree with a fair amount in your OP. Does anyone disagree with the suggestion that social skills, self-regulation and executive function are necessary for success and happiness? I'm just not sure about some unwritten implications about gifted programs that I've read in this thread. While the final statement in the OP may be personally true, it rings false if offered as general evidence that gifted programs are unnecessary:
It’s in the regular classroom that I learned how to behave appropriately (even if a class was ‘boring’) and exhibit decorum in all situations; it’s where I learned how to engage with others, how to listen, how to gauge what I should and shouldn’t say, and how to find a commonality with peers. It’s in the classroom that I learned to understand that people come from all walks of life. That type of learning doesn’t require an I.Q. test and special funding… that type of learning is integral to lifelong success.
IME, gifted classrooms offer myriad opportunities to engage with others, listen, gauge what one should and shouldn't say and find commonality with peers. Gifted students aren't sitting in the classroom working in isolation from each other without any interaction. Giftedness is not limited to a socioeconomic class or race. Thus, IME, gifted programs are often provide some of the most diverse classrooms in a school district because the students are pulled from much larger catchment areas than a neighbourhood school. Any good classroom experience will include expectations of appropriate behaviour and develop the ability to listen to others' ideas and consider different perspectives. This type of learning is not exclusive to one kind of program or school and it is not impossible or even difficult to achieve in a gifted class but your statement suggests otherwise.
For "gifted credentials", I could cite all the various forms of differentiation and gifted programs that I've experienced, either personally, through my children or family members. My children have attended gifted and regular programs in several different school districts. Does it really need to be said that some students, whether gifted and learning disabled and neurotypical, will do well in regular programs and others will do well in special interest or alternative programs? The gifted programs are often, although not always, a lifeline for many students who have not been thriving in regular classrooms for a variety of reasons.
Parents have a vested interest in finding suitable educational programs for their children. In fact, isn't it a biological imperative and part of our evolution to seek out healthy learning environments for our children and to remain involved in their development into mature adults? Some parents become too involved and too anxious, yes. That doesn't mean the inclination to build a solid educational foundation for a child is wrong or misplaced.