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A Message to Parents, Teachers and Students

I am one of the few of a dying generation. I am one of the few from a generation of kids who were still allowed to learn on their own.

I was labeled “gifted” in school and was instantly placed in the gifted programs.

Yes, there were actually gifted programs when I was at school. And I don’t just mean AP or Honors classes. I mean I was in a pull out program and sent to a totally different school one day a week as a first grader. We learned math and reading, of course, but we were also exposed to different things. Ballroom dancing, for example. Latin. We were enriched.

Now, though, enriching students in that way is “unnecessary,” according to administrations. According to government people. According to people who don’t know or understand both sides of “special education.” I’m not saying that we should completely avoid the students who need special help, the ones with autism or Learning Disorders or have other kinds of handicaps. Listen carefully, because I’m about to drop a bomb.

I’m a teacher. I’m trying to be a special education teacher- for handicapped students. I am an advocate for that side, as well. But, because of recent legislation, it always seems as if I have to pick sides.

But why? Why do we have to choose between giving every student a right to succeed and a right to be challenged? It’s certainly not money. Don’t kid yourselves people. The money that went into buying a brand new stadium could have gone towards education. Especially when the field wasn’t that bad in the first place. But this is not a convoluted sort of rant. This is actually a message. Well, three messages, if we want to get specific.

Now for the reason you came here:

To Students:

Please don’t blame your teachers for trying to help you. We’re about as frustrated with this as you are. Though we are obligated to abide by the rules set for us by our districts, we still want to see you succeed. We still want to see you do your best and graduate. Every one of you has that in you. You all look good in those graduation clothes, but we can’t hold your hand.

Teachers:

 Hang in there. You started this job for a reason, and hopefully it was for the right one. Things will get better soon and, if not, well, we’ll have a little riot, won’t we?

Parents:

Your children are not stupid. They’re also not the smartest little things you ever have seen. Most of you have normal, average children who will live fulfilling lives and give you lots of grandchildren. Hopefully not too soon, though, yes? Don’t push them any harder than you need to. Let them live, for crying out loud!

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  1. Kumorigoe

    On April 27, 2008 at 12:07 pm


    I can completely agree with this post. I, too, was a gifted student. At least, when I was in a school that had a program for such kids. Unfortunately, these schools are few and far between. Special education *is* a two-sided coin, and many administrators and parents are failing to see this.

    Gifted and talented kids are not necessarily a ‘renewable resource’. If anything, they’re becoming less prevalent than in years past.

    And the author is right in saying that Honors and AP classes are not true *gifted* classes. They are, instead, more of the same . That is, there is nothing that really challenges a truly gifted student in the curriculum for these courses. True, they might do a better job of preparing a student for college-level coursework, but they don’t really bring a mind outside of it’s previous boundaries, stretching it and allowing it to grow and expand.

    I fear for the gifted kids that are languishing in our schools now, and I fear even more for their children, who may not have anything interesting to look forward to in the future.

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