Article on the state of Gifted Programs - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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HERE is an interesting article on Gifted Ed. Programs and the wide difference.

It is sad that they are cutting funding for Gifted Ed and/or have no programs available.Our district is very good and one of the best in the area, but they cut their gifted program a few years ago with the exception of AP classes a the high school (which is not specifically gifted programming, but would attract many gifted kids).
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#2 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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Some oppose having separate classes for gifted kids. Mara Sapon-Shevin of Syracuse University argues that gifted programs create "haves and the have nots." She prefers grouping students together and then tailoring the curriculum to each child. Sapon-Shevin kept her own daughter out of a second-grade gifted program in the 1980s.

"In the unit on birds, the gifted children would learn myths about birds, go bird watching, build bird houses, learn bird calls, do bird identification," she said. "The problem came when I raised my hand and asked what the other second-graders were doing. They said 'work sheets.'"
I think it is really sad if the regular classes in a district are doing worksheets while the gifted program is using a better, more interesting and engaging curriculum. But I don't get opting your own kid out of the good curriculum and into the worksheet curriculum to make a philosophical statement.

Anyhow - I am not surprised that the gifted programs are the first to get cut. I encounter a great deal of negative attitude about giftedness, and heck... the term itself unfortunately suggests that society shouldn't be spending extra resources for this group a la "You already are 'gifted'... why do you deserve even more resources from society?" (Not my opinion, but just an opinion I see/hear frequently). I benefited enormously from the gifted programs available when I was in public school in the 80s and I suspect I would have caused a lot of trouble were they not available... well, a lot more trouble than I already did

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#3 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 01:51 PM
 
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And here's another problem I would see on a day-to-day basis...

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In the Oxnard School District just north of Los Angeles, that means Martha Flournoy, who ran the district's gifted program for a decade, is back in the classroom.

She said the students who are suffering the most are bright children from poor families. "If I'm middle class and my kids are identified gifted and talented, I'm going to find a charter school or go to a neighboring district or find a private school," Flournoy said. "That does not happen with all kids."
I live in a lower-income, largely minority community with a high percentage of ESL students. The parents here would not (generally) have the knowledge of how to tap into other resources, not to mention the financial ability to take advantage of it.
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#4 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 02:20 PM
 
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I think there is also the problem with parental involvement though too. I think, there is a LOT of parents that make it harder for the schools to get to the "good stuff".

I have two friends and a sister that teaches, 2 of whom are in lower income school districts. They tell me all the time about how the kids always has an excuse why they can't do their homework, even to the point of one child saying, "my mama says I don't have to". The one teacher who is in a middle class neighborhood has tried really hard to go above and beyond to make his class better, and even going as far as dressing up like Washington to bring history to life, but he's still frustrated by the one or two kids parents that don't help their own children improve. The parents don't ask how they can help their children succeed, they only blame the teachers.

What would really be revolutionary would be if the parents of these kids actually worked with their children at home, encouraged them and stressed the importance of learning and trying to help them shore up any weak areas at home.

I'd wager that's NOT happening in the great majority of homes. Instead, the bare minimum effort is being put forth by the child, and the parent either doesn't care or actually discourages the child, saying it's not important. The teacher sister/friends of mine send home notes trying to tell the parent their child is struggling, but the only time they hear from the parent is after report card time, when the parent comes to complain why Johnny is failing.

I think that advanced programming wouldn't be so far discrepant from regular programming if the parents could help bring their struggling children up to speed. If EVERYONE were working at their optimum, I think it would be easier to kick up the challenge for EVERYONE, not just those who are advanced.

And of course, those who have real learning disabilities would still need additional help, but really, far less than those who claim their child has one now. In reality what happens is that the child does become so far behind from not studying/doing any homework that indeed it becomes a "disability" in the sense they are too far behind to catch up.

I don't think the onus should be on schools alone to fix this problem. I think parents should be a large partner in this, and anyone else with the ability to help.

My old laboratory was trying to do something to help. It was located right behind a public school in a major city. They implemented a community outreach program by sending over some of our staff to help tutor kids. It was kind of neat.

I'm planning on inviting some of my daughters' friends over to our home to start a science club after the new year. We've been doing science experiments at home for quite a while now and I think it would be good to include some of their friends and help their friends too.

Oh, and by the way, I wanted to add that I'm starting to add printable versions of the science projects we've done at home and I will for every one we do in the future, in case anyone is interested in doing some at home with their kids. I'm also going to hopfully move into making printable newsletters too.

You can find them here.

http://theexplorationstation.wordpress.com/

Anyway, that's my thoughts about it.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#5 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 03:25 PM
 
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What would really be revolutionary would be if the parents of these kids actually worked with their children at home, encouraged them and stressed the importance of learning and trying to help them shore up any weak areas at home.

I'd wager that's NOT happening in the great majority of homes. Instead, the bare minimum effort is being put forth by the child, and the parent either doesn't care or actually discourages the child, saying it's not important. The teacher sister/friends of mine send home notes trying to tell the parent their child is struggling, but the only time they hear from the parent is after report card time, when the parent comes to complain why Johnny is failing.

...

And of course, those who have real learning disabilities would still need additional help, but really, far less than those who claim their child has one now. In reality what happens is that the child does become so far behind from not studying/doing any homework that indeed it becomes a "disability" in the sense they are too far behind to catch up.

I don't think the onus should be on schools alone to fix this problem. I think parents should be a large partner in this, and anyone else with the ability to help.
Hmmm.

I come from a social justice background, and I firmly believe that the schools need to deal with it. I come to this conclusion not from a philosophical pov per se, but rather from a pragmatic one.

We can't control what parents do. The state cannot dictate to parents that they must read to their child nightly, etc. With the amount of attention paid to literacy via media, fundraising, public ed, we'd likely have achieved the goal of widespread parental engagement in literacy if it only amounted to information and "peer" pressure.

Kids are in school for about six hours a day. That's plenty of time, and I think we collectively have more control over where tax dollars go than we do making parents engage in their child's education.

The other problem I have with putting it on parents is that there will always be some kids whose parents can't or won't step up, and what does it mean for those kids when the bell curve is based on kids who get a lot of extra help at home? Kids will tailor their own trajectory to their perception of their ability, and I think kids, whenever possible, should feel good about their skills and efforts regardless of what support they get at home (and that's a pipe dream, but I hate to see kids limit themselves, particularly those that may already be starting out with family/economy-based barriers).

As for LDs, I've come to the conclusion from working with impoverished people over the years that there are more unidentified LDs than we recognize, and that "lazy" or "unemployable" are often the words we use to describe what is actually an LD inhibiting productivity.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#6 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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And here's another problem I would see on a day-to-day basis...



I live in a lower-income, largely minority community with a high percentage of ESL students. The parents here would not (generally) have the knowledge of how to tap into other resources, not to mention the financial ability to take advantage of it.


I'm advocating with our school district and a lot of fuel in my fire is my worry for the kids who don't have parents with resources or the ability/desire to advocate as strongly as I've needed to for my kids. Every time I'm told "your child is so lucky to have such a strong advocate" I respond with "yes, and what about the kids who don't?"

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#7 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 03:37 PM
 
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What would really be revolutionary would be if the parents of these kids actually worked with their children at home, encouraged them and stressed the importance of learning and trying to help them shore up any weak areas at home.
This could happen if you start from the basic premise that all parents/families have the same basic educational levels and time and can help teach at home. This is, however, not the case.


Quote:
I think that advanced programming wouldn't be so far discrepant from regular programming if the parents could help bring their struggling children up to speed. If EVERYONE were working at their optimum, I think it would be easier to kick up the challenge for EVERYONE, not just those who are advanced.
True, in a way. But I interpreted this statement to mean that there is really no difference between those children identified as intellectually gifted and those that are not. There would still be a very large discrepancy (although "not so far") between what gifted students learn and others. They would still benefit from differentiated educational program. And our educational system and society in general would benefit if we fostered that talent. I think the public education system is the best equipped and has the broadest reach to identify and foster that talent. Therefore, I am concerned about programs for the gifted to be the first to be cut in budgets..which is what the OP article discusssed.

I wish all parents could be like the examples of parents I have seen here at the Mothering community. Because it is true that ultimately we are our children's primary teachers.
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#8 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 06:35 PM
 
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Hmmm.

I come from a social justice background, and I firmly believe that the schools need to deal with it. I come to this conclusion not from a philosophical pov per se, but rather from a pragmatic one.

We can't control what parents do. The state cannot dictate to parents that they must read to their child nightly, etc. With the amount of attention paid to literacy via media, fundraising, public ed, we'd likely have achieved the goal of widespread parental engagement in literacy if it only amounted to information and "peer" pressure.

Kids are in school for about six hours a day. That's plenty of time, and I think we collectively have more control over where tax dollars go than we do making parents engage in their child's education.

The other problem I have with putting it on parents is that there will always be some kids whose parents can't or won't step up, and what does it mean for those kids when the bell curve is based on kids who get a lot of extra help at home? Kids will tailor their own trajectory to their perception of their ability, and I think kids, whenever possible, should feel good about their skills and efforts regardless of what support they get at home (and that's a pipe dream, but I hate to see kids limit themselves, particularly those that may already be starting out with family/economy-based barriers).

As for LDs, I've come to the conclusion from working with impoverished people over the years that there are more unidentified LDs than we recognize, and that "lazy" or "unemployable" are often the words we use to describe what is actually an LD inhibiting productivity.
But the schools AREN'T dealing with it. The teachers have kids that don't care. I don't mean completely impoverished kids either. I mean kids that come from all kinds of backgrounds. The teachers WANT to help, but the parents don't do their part.

In some Chicago schools, they were PAYING students for good grades (at least for a while because the funding is been cut). Is that a good idea?

The parents shouldn't be forced, that's true, but there should be some sort of programs to help parents become partners in their kids' education.


There are a few programs that the schools around here try to educate the parents on how to help their kids, and flyers sent home with more ideas, but I wonder how many actually DO those extras. We don't but only because the girls are BEYOND those suggestions. So we do other enrichment activities instead.

Quite honestly, I don't see much hope in things getting better until parents WANT to become a part of the solution. As long parents do not, it is hopeless. The curriculum will continue to be dumbed down in order to reach kids that want to do the minimal effort.

****

Okay, and I realize this is a topic that is a hot button for me. Because as a mother who places a high value on education, I get frustrated by a few things:

the lack of value parents place on their own kids' education, valuing the latest Hannah Montana (or substitute any other fad here) item.

the lack of value Hollywood places on educational programming, instead pushing the pop culture stuff and feeding into the materialistic demands of kids that are encouraged by the parents. Christmas is coming. How many parents are buying books or science kits, or educational games for their kids, versus the latest video game, ipod or plastic toy.

the state of the educational system in general who come up with NUMEROUS programs and haven't realized the ones that are flawed should be dropped (for instance with as many complaints as the EM math curriculum gets, I wonder why they keep it around).

i'm angry at the educational websites like brain-pop, which is an EXCELLENT resource except it's too expensive for me, has to charge families $99 a year for using it.

i'm angry at why educational/science companies have to charge so much for their resources. Because even at 10 or 15 dollars for some of their stuff, adds up.

I think giant biotech/chemical/pharmaceutical companies should help fund programs for science education (I don't know maybe they do and I don't know about it).

I think it would be nice to get discounts or reimbursements on paper and ink from companies if you are a parent that wants to print out educational materials to help their kids. I spend a lot of money on paper and ink here. I don't get homeschooling discounts because I'm not a homeschooler.

But by and large, people don't care. They want someone else to do the hard work or foot the bill and they don't want to have to think about how they can help.

In the end, we are ALL going to pay for the educational problems, so we should all be asked to do our part.

And as much as I'd like to, I can't afford private school for my gifted girls. So I'm doing my part to see they get appropriate challenge at home, even as they are stuck doing some worksheets in school.

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#9 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 07:25 PM
 
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This could happen if you start from the basic premise that all parents/families have the same basic educational levels and time and can help teach at home. This is, however, not the case.
That's true, but there are some programs out there, like Parents as Teacher's programs for the little ones. My friend who adopted a baby, had been involved in that program and said it was a good one.

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True, in a way. But I interpreted this statement to mean that there is really no difference between those children identified as intellectually gifted and those that are not. There would still be a very large discrepancy (although "not so far") between what gifted students learn and others. They would still benefit from differentiated educational program. And our educational system and society in general would benefit if we fostered that talent. I think the public education system is the best equipped and has the broadest reach to identify and foster that talent.
I didn't mean to be make the issue unclear. In some things, some gifted kids would still need more, but at least the baseline wouldn't be so low to begin with.

Quote:
Therefore, I am concerned about programs for the gifted to be the first to be cut in budgets..which is what the OP article discusssed.
I agree. But I don't see the budget cuts changing any time soon. So, if there is no separate programs, then at least work with what we do have and upgrade the efforts in the regular program.

My point is, if the regular curriculum could be enhanced for all students, that would help. Otherwise what would you have? No gifted program and a useless curriculum for gifted kids.

I think given the chance at learning interesting things in a fun way, and encouragement and support at home, ALL kids would want to work harder.
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I wish all parents could be like the examples of parents I have seen here at the Mothering community. Because it is true that ultimately we are our children's primary teachers.
me too.

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#10 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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And here's another problem I would see on a day-to-day basis...



I live in a lower-income, largely minority community with a high percentage of ESL students. The parents here would not (generally) have the knowledge of how to tap into other resources, not to mention the financial ability to take advantage of it.
See, this is where I think this should be everyone's responsibility - in the form of donations in time or resources from big business/scientific corporations.

The problem though I think is that there might be an element of truth to the belief that big companies or even certain areas of government only want a certain level of education so that those people are forced to take minimum wage jobs that no one else wants. If everybody has a college education, who is going to be cutting the lawns or manicuring the nails, or doing the dangerous grunt work in manufacturing companies? If you take a look at those How It's Made Programs, I see a lot of minorities doing the jobs.

It is an terrible epidemic that I think SHOULD have a solution, but if it means cutting the bottom line, or having to pay more for employees, it's not going to happen.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#11 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 08:09 PM
 
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I'm planning on inviting some of my daughters' friends over to our home to start a science club after the new year. We've been doing science experiments at home for quite a while now and I think it would be good to include some of their friends and help their friends too.

Oh, and by the way, I wanted to add that I'm starting to add printable versions of the science projects we've done at home and I will for every one we do in the future, in case anyone is interested in doing some at home with their kids. I'm also going to hopfully move into making printable newsletters too.

You can find them here.

http://theexplorationstation.wordpress.com/
Thank you - both for the inspiration and the information on your blog. I have been thinking about doing a "Mad Science Club" for DS1 and this may the nudge I need to make it happen.

Kate
mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#12 of 18 Old 11-25-2009, 08:19 PM
 
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Thank you - both for the inspiration and the information on your blog. I have been thinking about doing a "Mad Science Club" for DS1 and this may the nudge I need to make it happen.
Thank you!

This is exactly what I mean. I have scientific knowledge (12 years in the biotech field), I am lucky to stay at home with them, but I don't want my skills to die out AND I want to inspire others. I want to help parents and teachers help their kids. I thought about what I want to do, how I could do this, and that was to provide a free resource to parents and teachers. I hope it grows into something useful. At the moment, it's not costing me anything but a little time to convert things into a more user friendly format.

And, I believe there's a LOT that can be done without fancy equipment. So far most every experiment we've done has been done without fancy, expensive kits and with things found in the kitchen or in the grocery store.

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#13 of 18 Old 11-26-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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I think that, ultimately, the issue in regard to the afterschooling options that have been mentioned is that it creates a situation where the children who aren't getting what they need at school have a longer school day than other kids. They have to come home at the end of the day and do more work b/c they didn't get an appropriate education during the six hrs they already spent at school. That's not to say that we shouldn't supplement, but I have had it pointed out to me by dd#2 that having "extra" work is unfair. We're really limiting it as a result.
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I think that, ultimately, the issue in regard to the afterschooling options that have been mentioned is that it creates a situation where the children who aren't getting what they need at school have a longer school day than other kids. They have to come home at the end of the day and do more work b/c they didn't get an appropriate education during the six hrs they already spent at school. That's not to say that we shouldn't supplement, but I have had it pointed out to me by dd#2 that having "extra" work is unfair. We're really limiting it as a result.
This is a really good point. We have cut way back on afterschooling since DS1 started grade 1. He wants the intellectual stimulation of last year's afterschooling, but he doesn't want it to feel like school, so I am really trying to put on my unschooling thinking cap for afterschooling.

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#15 of 18 Old 11-26-2009, 02:29 PM
 
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I think that, ultimately, the issue in regard to the afterschooling options that have been mentioned is that it creates a situation where the children who aren't getting what they need at school have a longer school day than other kids. They have to come home at the end of the day and do more work b/c they didn't get an appropriate education during the six hrs they already spent at school. That's not to say that we shouldn't supplement, but I have had it pointed out to me by dd#2 that having "extra" work is unfair. We're really limiting it as a result.
My daughters, so far anyway, love doing extra "work" at home. Our work consists of science experiments, playing math games and reading to each other and discussing books. My oldest is learning cursive writing on her own, just because. She also wrote a short story about a monkey at home. My oldest likes the freebies on the brain-pop site, and wants to do more, but I don't want to spend the money on it.

In fact the girls are right now playing a math game they brought home from schoool.

Interestingly enough, I just got done reading an article in a local paper last night. There is a pilot program in a Gary Charter school that not only extends the day, but also has school on SATURDAY for 4 hours.
Other schools have adopted a longer school day too. And supposedly they have seen positive results.

So....would I rather the school do more with my kids or me? I'd pick me.

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#16 of 18 Old 11-26-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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Oh, and also interestingly enough, I got a call from one of my teacher friends. He said he was going to be doing a unit on forensics and thought it would be a good thing to invite me to give a talk about it since I had worked in forensics for 5 years. So in a week or so, I'm going to be doing that.

He also told me that they used to have someone from the bank come out and give a lesson on check writing. So I guess, my idea of having the community help out the schools isn't such a radical idea after all.

In addition, one of the reasons gifted funds get cut is so that the resources would be spent on additional teacher aides for the special needs classrooms. Fortunately for his kids, he does a lot extra to enrich their school experience. Like doing the unit on forensics, and having the kids make continents and land structures out of clay, and other tactile activities so his fourth graders don't just have to memories details from a picture, they get more hands-on activities.

I wish my kids could have him for a teacher, he sounds like a lot of fun.

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#17 of 18 Old 11-26-2009, 03:10 PM
 
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My oldest, too, has willingly volunteered for extra "work" in the way of Saturday programs, afterschool activities and such. Dd#2 is a less motivated learner and we are just working on trying to get her re-engaged in learning. It has been harder b/c she's really been beaten down by some bad school experiences. She is, thus, a lot less open to adding anything on to the end of her day. My hope is to eventually be able to homeschool her once I manage to find a way to make enough $ from home to quit my pt job or to get a co-op together.
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#18 of 18 Old 11-26-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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It has been harder b/c she's really been beaten down by some bad school experiences. She is, thus, a lot less open to adding anything on to the end of her day. My hope is to eventually be able to homeschool her once I manage to find a way to make enough $ from home to quit my pt job or to get a co-op together.
Yes, I can see how that would be a problem

I have been on watch for this kind of experiences of my dd2, because she is recovering from selective mutism (she didn't talk in school for about 12 months) I always keep an eye on her about her school experiences. Because it's a social anxiety, I always am concerned about her teacher handling her and the kids interacting with her. With the exception of one minor issue, which her art teacher handled really well, she has had positive experiences at school.

Dd1 so far has only had positive experiences in her 3 years at school, and I'm hoping the trend continues.

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