Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gifted Charter School to Open in San Diego

The new school will be the first charter in the Encinitas Union School District and the only gifted charter school in California. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"The proposal calls for a school that would offer a Gifted and Talented Education program in every subject and grade. State and local officials said they don't know of any other charter schools in the state focused solely on a GATE program for elementary children. ...

TIP Academy would admit children who haven't been identified as GATE or who live outside Encinitas, as required by law."

The idea, according to a previous article previous article, 46 Questions Posed for Charter School for Gifted, is to delve into that grey area where kids will be identified as gifted on one measure, say an out-of-level test, but not necessarily through classroom grades or behavior, which can be tainted by teacher opinion.

"...The school would break from narrow measurement tools that many traditional public schools use to determine whether a child is gifted, such as the Raven, a gifted program entrance exam. The school would take into account tests, but would also consider grades, teacher evaluations, reasoning skills, class interaction, writing samples, even poetry.

“You can have a gifted kid who doesn't know how to read, or you can have a kid who is autistic and gifted, or at-risk and gifted,” [Charter petitioner Deborah Hazelton] said."

With three "borderline" (at least according to our district) boys myself, I think this is a great idea, as long as that's really the idea. What worries me is that pernicious "all kids are gifted" philosophy, which does a great disservice to the truly academically gifted. This quote from the school board president does not allay my fears:

"School board President Shannon Kuder said she loves the school's concept.

“I like the idea of teaching kids like they're all brilliant because I think the cream rises to the top,” she said. “I think kids are amazing human beings, and I think they'll rise to their expectations.”

Kids in public schools can rise to high expectations because currently the classroom expectations are so low. Something like 60% of kids in your average, heterogeneous classroom are working below their ability because teachers are teaching to the bottom third of the class. But truly gifted kids are still going to learn, in some cases, 3 times faster than those bright hard-workers who are also working below their ability now.

I hope the TIP Academy really wants to concentrate resources on the gifted. But if I lived in San Diego, I don't think I'd apply until I see their theory actually put into practice.

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