Busy Night

Ruby Sinreich's picture

Big meetings tonight:

I don't have time to write all that I want to say aboust these right now, but I'll try to post an update later...

issue: 

Total votes: 0

276 Comments

And you could take the same

And you could take the same statistics and argue that there is LESS need. Haven't many of these posts been about kids who were so bright they were just MISERABLE in their schools? I asked before where all these hordes of (gasp)"average" kids were coming from that allowed the MS teachers to dilute the general population and keep the bright kids from working together. The statistics Skywriter quotes would indicate that it was a fair question.

As to the Glenwood program--

The Glenwood program is designed "(f)or students who achieve three to four grade levels above their peers and have not been well-served by the gifted options available at the home school. Usually, both the student and teacher have indicated a level of frustration with meeting the student's needs both academically and socially in a regular classroom setting; and the school and the family feel the student could benefit from all-day grouping with students requiring similar interventions. Referrals for screening are facilitated by AG enrichment specialists. Off-grade level testing helps determine qualification for placement. Transportation from home elementary school is provided for students who are selected for this placement option. "

NOTE--this is for kids who are not ONLY multiple levels ahead, but "both the student and teacher have indicated a level of frustration with meeting the student's needs both academically and socially in a regular classroom setting (.)"

I will not deny that there are children in this system that meet those criteria. One does, however, need to learn to deal with other kinds of minds eventually. Hence the elimination of the self-contained program at Culbreth.

Melanie

Well, I appreciate your

Well, I appreciate your point Tracy. I was mostly ranting at Ruperto at that moment. In the end, I think you have some different expectations than I do about what our public schools should achieve. I also think that many posters on this list have very unrealistic expectations about school responsibility v. parent responsibility. Don't mena to sound like some kind of Republican here, but . . .

Also, I am not asking you to give anyone a pass. But you should put yourself in the BOE's shoes for just a moment and think about the hard, hard choices they are faced with.

Also, it seems like you have some serious frustrations with Neil Pederson - a thoroughly decent human being who has spent his whole adult life trying to help children. Ease up a little. He is not a bad guy at all, I assure you. I know him.

Education World Magazine

Education World Magazine describes the CHCCS school district with these words: "This area now boasts one of the most highly educated populations of any comparable area in the world, with a higher concentration of PhDs even than Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts".

You can read the whole article at

http://www.educationworld.com/cool_school/2003/honor_roll_082703.shtml

It would seem that there would be in CHCCS quite a large and growing need for more programs like that which Savant is talking about.

ARE they talking about

ARE they talking about eliminating Glenwood? I am out of the elementary loop--but I thought the BOE was talking about eliminating the "advanced" LA classes in the middle school.

Melanie

DK if cutting the Glenwood

DK if cutting the Glenwood program is under consideration. There used to be a similar program at the middle school level which was cut.

At one of the candidate forums last October, it seemed like the key issue splitting the six candidates was the value of programs like the Glenwood program. Three candidates -- Jamezetta Bedford, Mike Kelly, and George Griffin (?) -- tended to be supportive. Gloria Faley, Ed Sechrest, and Elizabeth Carter were opposed as I recall.

If you look at trends such as the removal of the MS program and the advanced classes in MS, it would seem that killing the Glenwood program would be a logical next step. That would be too bad. It seems to be getting really popular these days.

I owe Mr. Ruperto Klavatnei

I owe Mr. Ruperto Klavatnei a major apology.

When Mr. K started posting, I thought to myself, "Of course, the kids are learning. Maybe not the whole time they are at school but, they are certainly learning plenty. Who is this joker?"

Today, I asked my son about his experiences in 2nd/3rd grade. He said of everything he learned during those two school years, about five percent was learned at school. Everything else was learned outside of school. I challenged him on this and explained that he couldn't be serious. He held firm with his estimate.

So I asked about fourth grade so far, expecting a slightly higher number as he has had an excellent experience this year. He estimated that 55 to 60% of what he was learning was coming out of school. I again challenged him because I was surprised by the much larger number than the first but he again held firm.

He then volunteered something that blew me away. He said, "Last year (3rd grade), I would come home from school and look through encyclopedias and other books just to learn something. I had learned nothing at school and HAD to learn SOMETHING. Now, I come home and play because I have learned enough at school. I'm glad I can play. I like being able to play."

The only difference between the two school years is that my son is now a student at the self-contained classroom program at Glenwood. A lot of people have a problem with this program, but it has changed my son's life. Rather than try to eliminate such programs, they should be replicated throughout the system. We need one in every school.

I apologize for posting under an alias but I don't want this to get back to my son's former teacher (who I personally think was doing the best job he could possibly have done under the circumstances).

We talk education a lot in our home and I like to think that I am very involved in my son's learning. But, Mr. K. showed me that we can NEVER ask our kids enough questions about what is going on in the schools.

"Well sir--we (my husband

"Well sir--we (my husband and I) have friends in several different states, and my kids have friends who have come HERE from many different states, just in the last few years, and my older son is in college in another state--and I have seen some of HIS friends' writing--and they are form an assortment of states--and countries. "

My Good Ms. See---Thank you for your thoughtful explanation as offered above. My senses had perhaps left me momentarily; I was able to direct focus only to peers in the same school system. Now I see that you are in a position to compare one child's writing to the writing samples of a wide variety of other children from other areas of the globe, and this is how you have come to the conclusion that the Chapel Hill Schools have served your family well.

This is good and refreshing news, and I hope others will write in to share with this message board about any successes which they are experiencing with our local schools.

Thank you and I appreciate your comments. Further, may I thank the distinguished Mr. K for turning the discussion in a more positive direction.

They do a good job with

They do a good job with Spanish as well...but then I also think they do a good job with American History, Math, Chemistry, Physics, and English (last year's Freshman English teacher excepted--and that was a personnel issue--not a curriculum issue)so what do I know?

Melanie

Okay. . . let't talk about

Okay. . . let't talk about something positive. FRENCH is taught very well in the high school. The students are expected to learn new material each day, to review it each night. They learn a lot in this class, and the material just keeps coming. The teacher does not slow down, she just expects the kids to step up to the plated.

There is also some kind of audio assistance. Don't know if it is a tape system or a computer system, but the kids are exposed to native accents. The text book is good. It is not too heavy, and does not seem loaded up with a lot of fancy stuff that has nothing to do with the subject. There is a workbook and a grammar book too, all of which allow the children to carry only what is NEEDED at the time, which helps out with the backpack issue that people are talking about somewhere on this website.

Man, you all are just

Man, you all are just negative. Got more out of posts on another thread on this web site than this one. It's not how long the thread, it whats in it. No wonder dimon likes to hang in here.

Tracy, you are absolutely

Tracy, you are absolutely correct about the potential to free up resources by offering advanced courses or programs such as the self-contained classrooms at Glenwood. The 4th and 5th grade classrooms in the Glenwood program have 29 students each this year. Despite the fact that these children have come to the program from smaller classes, I have not heard complaints (from students or parents) about the large class sizes. These kids are challenged and they are thriving.

While I have many critical

While I have many critical statements to make about the refusal of Dr. Pedersen's adminstration to plan and appropriately implement its programs for general and gifted ed. I do want to reiterate that the school and the teachers have done a wonderful job educating my son.

As I have said, he is treated with respect and compassion. His education is paramount to every decision. Decsions are made relatively quickly and without overt political wrangling. This will not prepare him to do advanced work, but it will make a real difference in his quality of life. It is true teaching in every sense and it is a collaborative effort as we spend 15 to 20 hours a week directly assisting with homework, reading, reading to him, and making time to find creative ways to do other therapies. We are probably the only house around that considers box games to have value in teaching complex logic and Nintendo game cube to be a therapy. It is an extraordinary one - the speed of processing, cross hemisphere integration, fine motor control, memory, complex strategy, visual processing, visuospatial processing and social kudos from being, in this one thing, better than his friends, has been wonderful. Adding to that that it allows us to use it as a reqard for other work that is not a glamorous. Lastly there is the unique opportunity for him to be the teacher to friends and family.

Sorry, I am off track. I just wanted to be clear that there is at least one part of the district that is truly superior and where the compassion and enthusiasm that sent people into teaching still shows. We have a new story on the refrigerator written by my son thanking the principal for being so nice and helping in his math class ( I guess four teachers isn't always enough for these children)

I would also add that my daughter was truly taught to do advanced work in Mr. Falgout's class. That opportunity allowed her to be truly inspired by her class and her peers. She learned a number of lessons more important than any facts. She learned what it meant to be inspired by school rather than find a way to keep herself occupied. She learned that is was valuable to risk pushing yourself and fun to choose not to.

QC - Sorry but i will not give them a pass to be grossly inadequate in other areas. My son's class needs fewer students, four teachers and an occassional principal. Is it unreasonable to believe that his friend who is very very bright might at least deserve one teacher, in a much larger class, that is at least trying to teach to his level? I don't think so. It takes so few resources to help high AG students. It can even free up resources for other classes - like smaller classes for struggling students. Most high AG students can tolerate larger classes and fewer teachers, if the instruction is targeted to them.

Beyond that, the point to me is not just what is reasonable. It is that Dr. Pedersen and his adminstration said they could provide differentiated instruction with clustering that would meet the needs of the majority of gifted students. That isn't my demand. That was his promise. He needs to stop hiding from his responsibility and do what he promised.

Tracy

Ruperto, you should play a

Ruperto, you should play a role in educating your children. And it sounds like you do. For certain, children learn more from their parents than from their teachers (excepting those that have no parents).

You are the ultimate manifestation of my frustration in reading this entire thread. Schools are not here to do everything for everybody. We necessarily must prioritize different school needs based on the fact that there are (and must be) limited resources available. Sorry.

There are some kids whose needs will not be met by the public schools. That is just reality.

Queries Melanie See :

Queries Melanie See : "Skywriter--did you read my post? Do you honestly agree with Mr. Klavatnei (I hope I spelled it correctly sir!) that the schools are only "teaching" if children receive NO PARENTAL HELP WHATSOEVER? That reading aloud to your child "counts" as an unfair advantage?"

Melanie--- What I am saying is that if a child learns in this particular school system, he is doing so without much assistance from the school. If this was a good school system, we would all know it because the least fortunate among the children would be scoring tops in the state compared to other children at economic disadvanatage. This is not the case. Therefore we do not have a very good school system. Your children were lucky to have you making up for the many deficiencies of a system that becomes enamored with the latest fad and ignores data.

Well sir--we (my husband and

Well sir--we (my husband and I) have friends in several different states, and my kids have friends who have come HERE from many different states, just in the last few years, and my older son is in college in another state--and I have seen some of HIS friends' writing--and they are form an assortment of states--and countries.

It is interesting that you focused on the writing and not the MATH and SCIENCE--for which I gave hard evidence of my older son's "preparedness." In that case, would it be fair to say that my older child's peers were every person who took the AP Chemistry and AP Calc test last year? Or the SAT'S?

Melanie

Ms. See: I am confused

Ms. See:

I am confused about your thoughts about your children's peers. You seem to be indicating that you believe that the CHCCS schools are good because your children can write " as well as, or better than, most of their peers".

I am wondering where your children's peers go to school.

And yes, you are a very good speller of my surname.

Thank you and I appreciate your comments.

By no means. . . no, I do

By no means. . . no, I do not believe you have killed the thread. On the contrary, this is a very interesting topic. Mr. Ruperto Klavatnei has hit the nail right on the head. Whatever is going on in the politics of education in Chapel Hil, you can be sure it is a cover-up for the fact that our schools do not really teach much and have not done so for many, many years.

Skywriter--did you read my

Skywriter--did you read my post? Do you honestly agree with Mr. Klavatnei (I hope I spelled it correctly sir!) that the schools are only "teaching" if children receive NO PARENTAL HELP WHATSOEVER? That reading aloud to your child "counts" as an unfair advantage?

Good grief--no wonder the teachers are feeling beleaguered.

My kids have received an excellent education here. Not perfect--and they had to learn to deal with the occasional terrrible teacher, but an excellent education. They have good critical thinking skills, they have good math skills, and they write as well as, or better than, most of their peers. (And their father, for that matter.) My older boy had to write several long term papers for History before he exited HS--I wasn't required to do that.

Melanie

"and he tells me I DID help

"and he tells me I DID help him learn to read--by sitting with him in the evenings and reading to and WITH him"

That's a big one, Ms. See. A really big one. Just to be sure you don't take this the wrong way, my point is that MOST children in this district who do well do well for this very reason. Their parents are able to help them learn to read. Which is the MAJOR building block in education. Or that they help in other ways. Many other ways, too numerous to mention.

Parents SHOULD do this and should continue to do it. You did a great job !!!!

You are another case of a parent who saw to it that the child got a good education in the face of a school system which chose to use untested and trendy methods---methods which were NOT EFFECTIVE in helping the lowest of the low reach advanced levels and which were in many cases, also not effective in helping your child---especially in the most recent years.

"After he entered HS he

"After he entered HS he wouldn't even let me proof his papers." is what Ms. See indicates. This leads me to believe that she helped him prior to high school by "proof(ing) his papers". Which indicates that the parent had the ability to do this task. There was perhaps other help not mentioned here. Perhaps there were two parents in the home. Perhaps the parent took this child to a museum or steered him to watch an occasional educational program on PBS.

Disadvantaged children do not often get this leg up. The question is how many disadvantaged children have gone through the CHCCS and have ended up in AP courses and in college.

If I am wrong and Ms. See delivered absolutely no assistance to your child, then I stand corrected.

I should add--I just spoke

I should add--I just spoke with my college kid--and he tells me I DID help him learn to read--by sitting with him in the evenings and reading to and WITH him. So I suppose he is disqualified. But then, what parent wouldn't do THAT? It takes so little effort---and no expenditure (unless, like us, you have a hard time getting the books back to the library on time...)

BUT--I never purchased phonics books, or reading programs.

I never purchased math booklets. We did make some times flashcards, and I DID do those with him--I guess that disqualifies him as well.

Oh, and I DID drive him to zero period band in HS...and Zero period keyboarding.

(And zero period IS an inequity that the schools are trying to address.)

So, Mr. K, I don't know if he qualifies under your strictures or not, but then I don't think we can expect the SCHOOLS to supervise the doing of homework--or to fill all children's need to be read aloud to.

As to proper grammer--my kids seemed to pick that up on their own.

Melanie

Ah, I thought you were

Ah, I thought you were being humorous.

OK--I have a child who stated kindergarten at Carrboro Elementary--and graduated from East last spring. Never had a tutor in his whole school career. He DID go to his teachers at times, if he was confused about an assignment. After he entered HS he wouldn't even let me proof his papers. He received 4's on both his AP Chemistry and AP Calculus tests. And no, he didn't do a prep course. He studied on his own. (Sort of. If he'd put in a little MORE time he might have gotten 5's) He also scored quite high on the SAT without a prep course--though I will admit he DID do some practice tests. Oh, and he DID do some practice tests for his AP classes. Because of his scores he has been given college credit for Calc and Chemistry.

He is a physics major at Xavier University in CIncinnati--this semester he is taking Linear Algebra, Discreet math, and the 2nd semester of University Physics. Oh, and Cosmology (for a theology credit) and 4th semester Spanish. He made Dean's list last semester.

His summers were spent swimming, playing, and volunteering--one summer he spent a week in the NY Soup kitchens, one summer he repaired houses for a week in Appalachia--etc. He has NEVER been to summer school, nor has he ever taken a summer "enrichment" course. Our family believes summers are for family time. Oh, he DID do driver's ed in the summer--if you want to consider that a "summer course."

He is not an anomoly--this is true of his friends as well.

SO MUCH FOR THE DEAFENING SILENCE.

I'm sorry if that little tirade sounded like one of those horrid Holiday letters, and I aplogize if it sounded as if I was bragging--but K's statement was outrageous and false it needed to be countered.

I AM proud of him--because he is turning into a pretty wonderful, informed, thoughtful human being. And his teachers through the years deserve some of the credit. Unfortunately, there are WAY to many to list all of hte really great teachers he had--but I'll try to hit the highlights:

Grade school:

Linda Coridan, Joan George, Sylvia Lacey, Doris Clapp,Connie Smith (art), Carol Cantrell (music)

Middle School:

Dorothy Works, Mr. Parker, Mr. Frescoln, Ms. Flynn-Miller, Mrs. Rhodes, Ms Bryant, Mrs. Cutchin (band)

Highschool: Dr. Mullis, Ms. Lancaster, Dr. Miller, Mr. Brogden, MS. Hinsley--and I am sure there were others, but once your kid gets to HS you don't hear about the teachers as much.

Melanie

Ms. See, I do not understand

Ms. See, I do not understand why you thought I was speaking of bright children. I am speaking of children, not bright children. I do not believe that the CHCCS offers to ANY child what is necessary for that child to do advanced work. The CHCCS may be a fairly good babysitter of children, but it does not appear to be a very good educator of children.

One proof of this is that so far, no one has posted in to give an example of a child who has been prepared by the CHCCS to do advanced work. Yes, many in this district may be capable of advanced work. This is because these children have been educated in other districts before they came here, because they have tutors, because their parents give them a lot of help or because of myriad other types of outside assistance.

Another proof is that traditionally, very few children who come from disadvantaged homes in this district end up in AP classes in this district. Their parents have not had the money, the time, or the expertise to to prepare them, and the CHCCS has not been able to do it either. Why? CHCCS has wrongheadedly pursued COUNTLESS educational initiatives which are not effective in helping children to learn.

Again, if anyone knows of a CHCCS-educated child who is advanced despite a lack of parental help and massive family-provided expenditures, please do let us know. But I suspect the silence on this point will continue. . .

Ms. See, I do not understand

Ms. See, I do not understand why you thought I was speaking of bright children. I am speaking of children, not bright children. I do not believe that the CHCCS offers to ANY child what is necessary for that child to do advanced work. The CHCCS may be a fairly good babysitter of children, but it does not appear to be a very good educator of children.

One proof of this is that so far, no one has posted in to give an example of a child who has been prepared by the CHCCS to do advanced work. Yes, many in this district may be capable of advanced work. This is because these children have been educated in other districts before they came here, because they have tutors, because their parents give them a lot of help or because of myriad other types of outside assistance.

Another proof is that traditionally, very few children who come from disadvantaged homes in this district end up in AP classes in this district. Their parents have not had the money, the time, or the expertise to to prepare them, and the CHCCS has not been able to do it either. Why? CHCCS has wrongheadedly pursued COUNTLESS educational initiatives which are not effective in helping children to learn.

Again, if anyone knows of a CHCCS-educated child who is advanced despite a lack of parental help and massive family-provided expenditures, please do let us know. But I suspect the silence on this point will continue. . .

What I took Mr. K to be

What I took Mr. K to be saying was this: You can't expect the schools to do it all FOR you. If your child isn't getting what he-she needs--then you supply the rest. The CHCCS do not have the SOLE reponsibility to spoon feed your bright children.

Isn't it interesting how we all read his post and bent it to fit our own ideas?

(Lurking and posting when I have something different to say!)

Melanie

I am reading through Mr.

I am reading through Mr. Klavatnei's note and wondering if he was perhaps trying to express the somewhat common belief that the students who do well in our district do so because of what they brought with them to school, rather than what the school brought to them.

Looking down toward the end he says " If you can honestly say your child has learned in CHCCS how to do advanced work, without any HELP from outside the school system, do let us know."

He seems to be saying that the students who had actually been taught by the district without home advantages were not doing as well, and are not the students who would be prepared to take advanced classes. Everything but the first sentence fits that and the first sentence fits if you limit "CHCCS students" to students educated only by the CHCCS schools .

It is just a thought.

It is a common belief in a less extreme form that the district reputation gets a free ride on children who bring their ability and much of their knowledge with them or who are able to compensate for the schools. Our family's experience is that there is far far more "value added" to my son's education than my daughter's education.

Tracy

PS. I wanted to let everyone know that Ms. Laws has sent me a very positive email and an invitation which I have accepted (pending date and time). I truly appreciate the effort she has made and understand that the volume of email she receives may be difficult to manage.

Savant postulates : "RK is

Savant postulates : "RK is being funny".

I have just written last month a check in the amount of $3,489.74 for property taxes, and meanwhile the Chapel Hill schools are teaching the children nothing. Hilarious.

As Shakespeare said in one of the Richards: "The commons hath he pill’d with grievous taxes,

And quite lost their hearts"

Mr. Klavatnei, With all due

Mr. Klavatnei,

With all due respect, I don't believe this discussion would be as extensive as it currently is if so many parents didn't believe their children were capable of and deserving of advanced work. I don't understand the point you are trying to make.

"Let the deafening silence

"Let the deafening silence begin. . . ." (Ruperto K.)

Of all OP threads, this one has offered the least silence in recent days. Welcome and get out your earplugs.

Maybe there is too much blood in my caffeine stream, but I have two interpretations of RK's post:

1. Students who would benefit from advanced courses have received the unfair advantages of . . . . parenting, I guess. The inherent injustice of receiving . . . parenting . . . should not be compounded by also providing kids with courses that match their higher level of readiness.

2. RK is being funny. Actually, this is funny even if interpretation #1 is correct and the post was meant to be serious.

Domo arrigato, Mr. Ruperto

Savant, at the board meeting

Savant, at the board meeting last week, when Mr. Sechrest made this assertion, Mr. Kelley responded that the data he was referring to were the EOG performance data, and Kelley argued that those data (which are designed to test for baseline grade level proficiency) cannot be read for conclusions about the impact of the inclusion or exclusion of curricular offerings for kids at the high end of the performance range.

I offer this just as a point of information from somebody who was present, not to endorse either Kelley's or Sechrest's use of the data.

I do not believe that Chapel

I do not believe that Chapel HIll students are capable of doing advanced work. This may be the real reason that our school officials are cancelling advanced classes. If anyone on this list has a child who has been in CHCCS for the entire school careeer, who IS CAPABLE OF DOING ADVANCED WORK, please post to the list. Obviously your child is disqualified under any and all of the following circumstances:

A tutor has worked with your child

you have helped your child make up for the voluminous material NOT PRESENTED by CHCCS schools

you helped your child learn to read

your child recieved outside assistance in learning to spell, or usage of proper grammar.

you have purchased math workbooks or other assistance for your child

your child participates in any kind of academic program during summers or with distance education

If you can honestly say your child has learned in CHCCS how to do advanced work, without any HELP from outside the school system, do let us know.

Let the deafening silence begin. . . .

Looks like everyone has gone

Looks like everyone has gone back to work or had enough of the topic, but a person who attended the last BOE meeting sent this to me:

-Mr. Sechrest stated at this year's advanced classes cancellation vote that the Board didn't need to wait for data because they looked at data from last year and it justified canceling those classes.-

That is unfortunate as it would appear that the BOE culture of no accountability has gotten to him also. I doubt that Mr Sechrest would decide a year before it was necessary to commit to the second phase of a major business change without looking at any information on the successes and failures of the first phase.

I am not talking now about whether it should or should not be canceled, but what constitutes appropriate management of the change they have already directed.

This sends the wrong message to a district administration that already has a history of not following through on promises.

I guess it falls back to us to hold the board accountable for not doing its job: insuring our children actually receive the education they directed.

In the fall, Mr. Sechrest

In the fall, Mr. Sechrest was quoted as saying that, with regard to the shift to differentiated education, there was "no turning back."

If he truly feels that way, I can imagine that there would be no point in his waiting for data. If there is no going back, why would something like data be a factor.

Where are these data he cites? What do they show? How can we assess after less than one year? After all, we are supposed to withhold judgement on what is going on at Smith MS because they are "adjusting" and "working out the bugs." They have been under way for four and one-half years, but we are expected to overlook their relatively poor track record for now.

I agree with Dabney's call

I agree with Dabney's call to move toward compromise or even acknowledgement that there is a problem. I for one am happy to consider alternatives, not just compromise, but first someone has to be willing to listen. Last spring during the vote to cancel the sixth grade advanced classes Mr. Sechrest questioned what measurements would be used over what timeline to determine success. (paraphrased as it was a while ago) No Boared member supported the idea. That was a shame because the honest attempt to bring some accountability to the process was a very welcome change. This year they voted without having any information on the successes or failures of the first phase.

This leads us back to how do we get Dr. Pedersen and the BOE to accept reponsibility for the problems or even responsibility for evaluating the program for problems? Compromise is difficult when one side will not acknowledge on any level that the otherside has legitimate concerns.

Tracy

In most arguments, whoever

In most arguments, whoever defines the terms has a far better shot of winning the debate. As I understand it, the district and supporters of its policy to cut gifted classes define those classes a part of a racist structure because those classes' populations is weighted very heavily towards whites, asians and, south asians. Offering more to that population, which is already perceived as far more priveleged, is to further support the racist culture that our society is based on. Then there are the people who support gifted ed. They define gifted ed and advanced classes as a necessary part of the process of teaching all students. They see the classes as independent from issues of race in that they are open to all who qualify. They feel it is equally discriminatory to shortchange the kids who are eligible for gifted services just because those kids usually aren't african american or, increasingly, hispanic. A discussion betwee the two sides fails over and over again because the whay each group defines the problem is so radically different. It's rather like the huge gap that exists between pro-choice and pro-life groups--even in the way they define themsevlves shows how little they think of the group opposing them.

How do we move past this as a district? Certainly, abandoning namecalling would be a start. Someone who argues for the efficacy of gifted education is not inherently racist (even not inherently subconsciously racist.) Someone who believes that classes that don't include hispanics and african americans are discriminatory is not inherently hostile to the idea that all children deserve to be challenged in school.

It would also help if the discussions were more centered around what the schools are really and truly like, rather than what policy makers wish and then mandate they should be. The district should state what it will and won't do for its students and then hold true to their statements. Parents of gifted children should realize that, despite a lack of challenge, the vast majority of these kids will turn out just fine.

I genuinely believe there is a peace--however uneasy--that can be made here. Surely there is some way we can work to insure that all children are equalIy challenged and, maybe, that all children are pushed to acheive equally. I commend all of those who have posted on this thread for caring so much about education. I hope we can take the passion that this topic generates and turn some of that energy in to figuring out how to move past a war of words and toward some sort of compromise.

Good call, Duncan. I think

Good call, Duncan. I think Exploris is a charter school. Which, by the way, I do not think are going to help with the acheivement gap. I fear that charters will only take the most enagaged parents away from the public schools and leave them floundering even more. I wish there was a way to bring the flexibility and creativity of charter schools into our publicly-governed schools.

By the way here's one reason that I REALLY hope we do NOT strive be more like Wake: http://newsobserver.com/front/digest/story/3189535p-2868884c.html

"Someone might want to ask

"Someone might want to ask Tracy, Mike and several of these folks about comments that have been made to African Americans in the past month and how those folks felt after those comments were made to them. But, then again those facts would be distorted too."

(G. Faley)

Please be more specific. You mention people by name (including, I assume, an elected official) and "comments" made to African-Americans. Given all the accusations of racism, this is something we need to know more about.

Exploris Middle is not a

Exploris Middle is not a Wake public school -- at least, it's not listed as a Wake public school.

Here's how Wake describes its "gifted and talented middle schools," of which there appear to be four.

http://www.wcpss.net/Instructional/Magnet/middle_school/gifted_and_talented.html

Two of them seem to require a form of testing to place in. It appears that the others don't require a test, and are treated like any other magnet school, which means an application and a lottery. The two that require some testing are the GT/Academically Gifted schools, which seem to be linked to two similarly organized elementary schools. (The testing appears to be required if the child wants to get into the AG program, but is not required if the child wants to remain in the school's GT program.The other two are simply GT schools, according the the web site.

Here's a link to Ligon Middle, (an arts/technology gifted school) which seemed to have the most comprehensive description of its programs, and also a PDF file with a lot of statistics about its student body and their performance.

http://ligon.wcpss.net/

Breaking down Ligon's entire student body by race, I come up with these numbers. (These numbers do not distinguish between GT and GT/AG, which I couldn't find broken down by race. Roughly 60% of the total student body is also in the AG program). I'm repeating the classifications used by the U.S. Census and by the school itself. I've also rounded to the nearest whole percentage point (except when that would be zero):

Student body:

59% white students

25% black students

13% Asian students

1% Hispanic students

2% multi-ethnic students

0.3% American Indian students

For comparison's sake,

Wake County:

72% white residents

20% black residents

3% Asian residents

5% Hispanic residents

2% multi-ethnic residents

0.3% American Indian residents

This does _not_ mean that the achievement gap has been narrowed, if test scores are used to measure it. (I guess that's an arguable proposition in the first place.)

Using the 2003 figures, there is still a pronounced gap in those test scores within the student body at Ligon Middle, and there's also an odd thing happening with African American students at the school: they start off in sixth grade exceeding by a good margin their African American peers systemwide in the percentage scoring at or above grade level, but as the years go on at the school, that gap narrows. In reading for instance, by the time an African American student at Ligon reaches 8th grade, he or she is no more likely to score at or above the grade level than any other African American student systemwide. In math, African American sixth graders at Ligon start off far more likely to score well on EOG tests, but in 7th and 8th grade they become much _less_ likely to score well than their African American peers systemwide. Now how the hell does that happen at a GT middle school?

There are things going on here that need explanation. Are those kids, despite lagging on EOG tests, receiving an enriched and superior education that will stand them in good stead for a lifetime of learning? Hard to tell; it's an inherently subjective question. The numbers would lead you to believe that they aren't. In the meantime, I'm not sure I would hold up Wake schools as a model until this question is answered. It seems fundamental.

Yes Gloria, I have your

Yes Gloria, I have your email addresses but we are debating policy here. The rules are on the side of the site. We are talking about what was promised, what has happened and what needs to be done. You do deserve credit for having the courage to say what you actually believe. The down side to that is that people may not agree with it.

I have to admit to being completely baffled by the last paragraph, but it seems important so if Gloria is not in fact out of here, or if someone else knows what she is referencing it might be something that we should be aware of. It is a bit hard to tell with what was written.

Tracy

Tracy Your facts are

Tracy

Your facts are completely false and twisted. Your mind is made up and closed. You know my email address and you can't seem to email me directly. Yet, you have run my name in the mud publicly with distorted facts. You did before the election and you are doing now. Let it go, Tracy. Breathe. Isn't that what therapists should tell their patients.

I have children that I have work with, I have children that I have to show that I love, I have children that need hugs and stories to be read to. I am very proud of the contribution that I have given for the past 10 years. I am quite proud of how I have faithfully served to help children (all children including yours). No matter what you say about me, you can't take that reality away from me. I will keep with me forever next to my heart.

Just a suggestion, but you might want to get off the computer and go hug your child for awhile. It might be a wonderful moment for both of you.

Someone might want to ask Tracy, Mike and several of these folks about comments that have been made to African Americans in the past month and how those folks felt after those comments were made to them. But, then again those facts would be distorted too.

I am out of here.

Serena, We have Wake's

Serena,

We have Wake's former head of gifted education on staff here. I thought she would have some influence but it seems like even saying she thought guidelines on clustering were reasonable was overturned and I watched her give a serioue tap dance about why it was no longer possible to go on record with what the principals are being told. The expertise is here. It has been shoved in a closet.

Tracy

Simon - You hit the nail on

Simon - You hit the nail on the head! Yes, everyone would be MUCH happier if they could have some input on their child's education. But we are all arranged by busing district. And to make matters worse, the district has a given mandate by the School Board to make the curriculum match across the board. Every school will offer the exact same courses, with the exact same options.

Wake County has an entire middle school for 'gifted children' (Exploris Middle), as well as many gifted options at the other magnet schools. Parents and students can CHOOSE. Durham offers gifted courses at the middle schools, which seem to be what Chapel Hill used to offer. Orange County Schools offer, "A comprehensive K-12 Academically Gifted Program". But Chapel Hill is removing all of these options and creating instead an educational world where all children are equal. Well, they are all equal, unless one is less equal, which makes that child eligible for more help, making them him/her more equal. (luckily Chapel Hill 9th graders do still read 1984, so they may see some of the irony in their schooling.)

Simon you are also correct that the Northern Ireland schools are quite different from our schools. But I found it fascinating that many of the same complaints of inadequate training and support were voiced by the teachers there. This was ten years ago. How far down the same path do we have to march before some evaluation can be taken?

Merger is sounding better and better. Could we merge with Wake County? Exploris looks really cool!

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