Monday, May 29, 2006

Gifted Education = Segregation? (Part III)

A response to Pierre Tristam's ridiculous essay equating gifted education and segregation by Cindy Lovell Oliver, a professor who specializes in gifted education and English as a second language at Stetson University in the Department of Teacher Education. She holds a doctorate from the University of Iowa. She recommends ."A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students" (available online at

Educating Gifted Students from the May 27, 2006 Daytona Beach News-Journal Online

... "First, let's look at the criterion of IQ. An IQ of at least 130 is typically required for gifted identification. (About 2 percent of the population would be included.) For those who believe that students with an IQ of 130 (or higher) do not require special educational considerations, please bear in mind that this is two standard deviations above the average IQ of 100. Few would argue that students scoring two standard deviations below the average, or those with an IQ of 70 (or lower), require special educational considerations. Why does it seem politically incorrect when special consideration is given at the high end?

Secondly, Tristam's question, "What message are we sending our children, and society at large, when segregation is held up not only as a defining factor of an educational program, but as a desirable, even admirable one as well?" merits a thorough response.

Yes, what message are we sending? Let's begin with the world's most famous (and powerful) C student. President Bush, as he has every year since taking office, recently requested no funding for the Javits Program. Congress passed the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act in 1988 to ensure America's brightest would be provided with curriculum commensurate with their ability.

President Bush's message to gifted students: No support from me! Find yourself a rich daddy like I did! His message to the rest of the country: Don't look to me to waste taxpayer dollars on those snotty smart kids. I've got better places to waste taxpayer dollars.

And what about Tristam's charge of segregation? In junior high school I auditioned for chorus. I was named an "alternate" and could sing only if a real chorus member got sick. Others didn't even make that cut. In band, I met with even more elitism. (My clarinet squeaked.) And football? Well, now I'm just being facetious. Segregation is a serious charge, but one that I, too, once accepted." ...

"Asking a child to be on page 50 because "that's where we are today" is a real problem to the child who has not yet made it to page 17. It is equally frustrating to the child who has finished reading the book. Speed limits belong on the highways, not in the classroom."

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