Busy Night

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...




The school system in Ulster is rather different to the systems in England, Scotland and Wales. The Scottish and English systems are probably more representative


You can't snipe with pistols. You'ld have to use rifles and take a lot more than ten steps.


The the only really famous old-boy from my School was William Penn; his reputation as a conformist was less than excellent, although his understanding of the principles of civil disobedience and Jury Nullification seems to be somewhat in advance of that exhibited by some in the Chapel Hill community.


wouldn't this thread be so much shorter if parents who weren't happy with the way their child were being educated could move that child to a different school and have all funding follow the child? Or if instead of building giant new schools with full-contact redistricting, there were lots of little schools, with near charter levels of operational independence?

School Choice is not the answer; it's just the best way the real answers can be found.


For those of you who want to comment on the Raven's Test, I would caution you to do so only after doing careful research. This is a nationally normed non-verbal test that has been PROVEN to identify gifted children of color and ESL students where few other tests do. Search the web and you'll find plenty of positive info on it.

If you want anectdotal information on it, refer to the Durham school system. According to a teacher here in CHCCS who used to work in the Durham system, the Raven's Test made a huge difference over there in picking up gifted children from the underserved minority population. The NAACP should be jumping up and down and demanding this test be done for all african americans in CHCCS, but I also add in the ESL students because they are also under-served.

The CHCCS anecdotal experience that I carry around is that my African American friend, whose child had been identified as gifted all through elementary school, found that he had been removed from the gifted database in middle school. She had to advocate and argue to have him re-established. The identification system is flawed for all races, but especially for the underserved minorities.

I'm white and about to have a baby. I hope somebody african american or latino has the time, energy, and drive to chase this one because I'll be out of commission pretty soon. But, it will remove the race excuse from cancelling gifted services, so it serves every gifted child to chase it. Word to the wise.

Ruby, I think it's a little early to start after Mike Kelley. He's only been on the job for a few weeks and it is a four-year term.

I think you should give him a chance, especially as you have acknowledged that you don't feel very informed about school issues at this time.

Two comments:

- In response to the question from Savant on "is this a class issue instead of a race issue"? Answer: if gifted children are identified mainly on what they already know (as is done currently) instead of on their IQ or potential, then yes, it ends up being a class issue because those with cash can and do buy and buy into the more educational types of toys, computer games, books, and after-school activities. Therefore, it would level the playing field to have tests that identify gifted children based on their innate ability (i.e. IQ or potential), thus removing the class and/or race advantage.

- In response to Ruby's comments on Mr. Kelley, I agree with Frank McBride that Ruby ought to be more careful about going after Mr. Kelley. From what I've seen and read and heard, Mike Kelley is extremely bright, very fair, reasonable, and level-headed. He wants all children to be challenged at their level. All means all ability levels and all races and all genders. I've never heard him say or write anything to the contrary and I've been following the news and meeting minutes fairly well. But, Ms. Faley, on the other hand, has a bad reputation of putting her foot in her mouth and saying some very inflammatory and unfair things as I've now seen and/or heard about on the PAGE listserv (re: her comment to someone about "glad you have the genes....") and now again in the latest board meeting (re: "white male dominance").


How do you reconcile your desire to try and figure out how the school system can serve the different needs of so many children and then turn around and say you care nothing about the needs of a particular child becuase his parents chose to meet his unique academic needs outside the public school's program? Is this a defensive reaction because you feel that homeschoolers intrinsically rpresent criticism of the public schools? If so, maybe you should look through the lens of differentiation and diversity and realize that one approach for one child is in no way condemning of a different approach for another child. No need for insecurity about the public school system. Although, it's not exactly safe to say that there are not major problems.


Two comments on the unfortunate racialization of this issue . . .

First, it is quite possible that the real underlying issue here is socio-economic status, not race. District data show that the gap between ED (educationally disadvantaged) and non-ED children in EOG pass rates is comparable to the racial gap in pass rates. Why is there an automatic assumption that race is the core issue, and not socio-economic status? Is it that "classism" is not as sexy a topic as racism?

Second, given the horrible statistics on our district's racial achievement gap, why would anyone want to trust the old guard to solve the problem? Gloria Faley and her fellow "progressives" have been running the show for some time. It is not as if the school board was recently wrested from the clutches of Jesse Helms and Bull Conner. The five old guard members want to protect minorities from Bedford and Kelley who have been serving only one month. I don't know how much more old guard help the minorities can take.

Trivia Quiz . . .

Q: Which MS has the highest percentage of African-American students testing at grade level or above for both math and reading EOGs?

A: Culbreth (74%), recent home of advanced classes that institutionalized "white male privilege"

Q: Which MS has the highest percentage of Hispanic students testing at grade level or above for both math and reading EOGs?

A: Phillips (83%). Culbreth is second (68%). The two schools that are losing advanced "racist" classes.

Q: Which MS had a Hispanic EOG pass rate of only 44% for both EOGs?

A: Smith (I'll say 44% again so you won't think it was a typo). This is the home of the politically perfect progressive pedagogy that the district is moving toward.

Q: If you were a minority parent, which MS would you want your child to attend?

A: ?????

Tracey--One of the points I am trying to make is that the "advanced" classes are not a panacea for gifted kids. I thought we had gotten past "cut and paste" when we got to MS--but even in Phillips "advanced" courses there was some of that. I hate to tell you--but it shows up at the HS level, too. In honors courses. Never saw any of it in AP Chemistry or Calc--probably because the curricula for those classes is pretty much set in stone.

I asked my HS sophomre if he felt there was much difference between the advanced LA course on his team and the regular. His response? "The Honors kids have to read a few extra pages every night. There was a larger difference between the Advanced LA courses in the TEAMS.

He DOES feel there is a fairly big difference at the HS level.

I hate to think there was name-calling--that never serves ANYONE well.


We're not done yet!

oLet’s not let the record stop yet…

First – I am happy to read QC’s post and appreciate the transition toward more specifics. It helps me.

For QC’s points

Agreed that there is great value to being in classes with children from different backgrounds. If I didn’t agree, my daughter would be in private school already. Yes there is a value and it should be part of a public education but it is possible to have that AND education. I reject the idea that it is an either or choice.

I cringe at the teaching other children – not because that in and of itself is bad – but because it once again says that these children matter only for how they can affect other children. If it was part of a broader program of sharing all the great things they were learning in school I would talk about it, but as an answer to my question about what do we owe the children, it is not acceptable to me. I do not think we owe them an education of teaching others. I don’t know if QC meant it to sound that way but I am not willing to talk about ways to keep children busy in classes that are grossly inappropriate for them. I don’t want to hear that we can tell them to go read or book or that they can teach themselves in the corner. I do not want to hear that they should all go somewhere else or that they are too smart for the district or that their parents can fix it for them. All of which are idea that have been floated here. I am fundamentally tired of all of these “answers” that continue to support the idea that the children do not matter. I am sure the posters did not mean it that way, but to me they are just more excuses or rationalizations for why it is ok to do a lousy job with these children. No more excuses.

My question is not how do we help children survive a bad system. My question reflects my intention to continue to say, quite loudly, that it isn’t that hard to teach these children even with mostly heterogeneous classes – if those in power ever agree that we should be doing so. Right now they do not.

Tracking… I have never and will never argue for tracking. As those who know me know, my family has managed to live most parts of this debate over the decades. I was inappropriately tracked from fifth grade to tenth. My mother didn’t like two teachers and changed my level to avoid them. There I sat for five years. It is easy to spot that my education is quite lacking in writing and grammar. Tracking is inflexible and without real recourse. The term is beginning to lose meaning. Every form of ability grouping is not tracking. Every option to challenge fast learners is not tracking. If the classes are not diverse enough then fix that, don’t throw the education of the children away. Yes the history of tracking and some grouping is checkered and we need to be aware of barriers to education in any form, but creating more barriers is not an answer. The fact that tracking perpetuated racial inequities does not mean that children who learn quickly now should be disowned. There is no education in diversity if you force children out to private school. You just begin to set the process of class segregation (which overlaps with race segregation). It is lacking in vision to constantly insist that we must choose.

I have put forward other options, lets add still another. What would be so unacceptable about having extended seminars for the “some” and the “few” in which core course material could be expanded and viewed in greater depth. Each core class would have one quarter in which the some and few met separately. The students would have one period a day with their peers where they would really dive into something and the rest in heterogeneous classes with actually differentiated instruction. It could be a mutli-age class taught by the AG specialist. Or it could be regrouped classes across teams. It could be blocked classes regrouped for seminars. Is one period a day so destructive to equity or exposure or learning to work with other children

My problem with Ms Faley is not with her per se. I do not know her personally, only through email and in person debates. As I said earlier, I do not disagree with her desire to help children who are struggling or who have life barriers making things hard. I disagree most profoundly with the implementation of her vision and the lack of room in it for district responsibility to gifted children.

Yes Gloria can explain the possibilities of her vision as she has again in this post, but that does not answer any of my questions or any of the problems. The children go to school in reality not in the school of what could happen or even what happened elsewhere. The descriptions of lesson plans are meaningless when they are not lesson plans that the teachers at the old schools are using.

Gloria – you know the parent hosting the meet the candidate session where we talked said only a few teachers could differentiate and you know that you said that was because the principal had not supported it. You said that you had come to the conclusion that the board had been too flexible. You said you decided the board just needed to do it and not leave them any choice. When I questioned what would happen when they couldn’t, you said that it was the parent’s problem to advocate for their child. Despite my asking six different ways, I never did get you to acknowledge that the district was responsible for planning implementation. You did say that the principals were also responsible for fixing it. We both know that becoming adept at differentiated instruction ( not homework) takes years of practice. You would not agree to any intervention to help the children trapped in the void between the vision and the reality. You are a good debater in the sense that you have an agenda and passion. You did not debate well with me in that you would not really listen and answer what I was saying. You gave justifications – no empathy or help.

I will continue to say that choosing to force the teachers into compliance by dumping heterogeneous classes on them was using the children as a weapon. I will continue to say that passing responsibility for making it work to parents was and is using them as a weapon against teachers. Not that I think that originated with you. It is a well established district pattern to blame the teachers for everything and tell the parents it is their problem to make the teachers do it. Some day we will get the parents and teachers on the same page and let Dr. Pedersen know that the buck actually stops with him – not everyone else on the planet. This has been his watch and he has had long enough to get it right. It is time for a broader vision or a new visionary.

AT no point in any discussion with Ms. Faley or any district administrator has ANYONE said, “No clustering? No cluster groups working together? No differentiation of instruction? Gee those are real problems. Nothing we promised is happening. It is our responsibility to look at problems like that. Lets see what can be done about it. Not once. Not anywhere from anyone. That was not acceptable then and it is not acceptable now. I don’t care about the vision if they are not doing anything to see the vision be reality.

I stand by the problems with Mr. Singleton’s program. I explained them in detail to Dr. Collins-Hart who reluctantly found herself having to agree to the major points. As is the norm, agreeing with points did not result in any agreement for concrete actions. The format is inappropriate. I understand he is charismatic, but he has no training or education to be leading massive group therapies and his paradigms are psychologically flawed in ways that are fundamentally dysfunctional. Double binds are wrong. Principals leading group therapies lead to the severe abuses like happened at Phillips. Abuses the district refused to take responsibility for or take steps to prevent in the future. The people who are following his instructions are equally unqualified to assess their psychologic basis. His reading selections are dangerous, divisive and inappropriate. They are responsible for an identifiable increase in hostility to the parents of gifted students. His technique claims to avoid finger pointing then shows the ultimate intolerance of saying that anyone that does not agree with him will “have to be removed.” Are we actually trying to teach tolerance with totalitarianism? He has been given unprecedented influence in the district for which he has no qualifications. Yes he started with the idea that open and honest conversation about race is good. No argument, but the minute his technique was described as “forcing” people to look at their racism and “removing” those who do not agree with his vision- it went over the line, way, way over. When board chairpersons and vice principals start quoting that people who do not agree with him do not belong in the district we moved from empathy to suppression of honest conversation. He is not qualified for the power he has been given. Being traumatized by all those rich white kids in that private high school in Baltimore is not qualification to choose readings that demonize those children and their parents, or to set up a system where OUR gifted students are labeled as racist to teachers. He may mean well, I do not know, but he is acting out his anger in a way that is destructive to our district.

I stand by what I said. I know you cannot see it, because no one attending those sessions is willing to look past the emotion to the facts. It is the skill of the charismatic leader, but don’t take my word for it. He said that a consultant should show their proof or we should not be buying. He says he can fix the gap and it makes a nice story, but show me one single study he has done to back it up. Just one would be a good place to start. Instead we hear that his lack of success is because other districts did not have the courage to truly do what he dictated. People have no idea how much control you have given to a man who appears to have prematurely left a PhD program in education administration, and whose undergraduate degree was communications. Clearly he mastered the communications part. He is not a teacher. He is not a therapist. He does not have the qualifications to be an administrator. He would not be qualified to hold any position in our district.

Now back to the main question. How do we get Dr. Pedersen and his admistration to take responsibility for this? Do we need to come out in favor of merger so we can get a BOE that will actually require accountability before it expands programs? That seems a bit extreme but accountability is a pretty basic duty being ignored. We can keep yelling for two more years and be ignored. We can add two more new board members who don't rubber stamp, but two years is a while to wait. We could take the district to administrative court for being out of compliance with multiple sections of the state gited education law.

I lean toward merger, but I am open to suggestions.


oops - the numbers got a bit garbled in the posting - here theey are reformatted:

FPG: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/fpglevelone/contact.asp

25 classroom teachers

20 support faculty for special needs:(2 Autism teachers, 9 reading/resource teachers, 2 Speech/Language Pathologist, 2 ESL, 1 OT, 1 Psychologist, 1 School Counselor, 1 Family Specialist, 1 Program Facilitator)

ratio = 20/25 or roughly 4:5 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*



19 classroom teachers

12 support faculty for special needs: (4 reading/resource teachers, 1 Literacy Coordinator, 1 Speech/Language Pathologist, 2 Family Specialists, 1 Psychologist, 1 Guidance, 1 EC Program Facilitator)

ratio = 12/19 or roughly 2:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

2 enrichment teachers/specialist (has the self-contained AG classrooms)*


Seawell: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/seawell/faculty.html

22 classroom teachers

13 support faculty for special needs: (7 reading/resource teachers, 1 Speech/Language Pathologist, 1 OT, 1 School Counselor, 1 Family Specialist, 1 LEA rep)

ratio = 13/22 or roughly 3:5 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

2 AG teachers*


Middle Schools


McDougle Middle:http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/mcdmidl/staffcurriculum.html

48 classroom teachers (inc voc-tech)

15 support faculty for special needs: (2 Reading Teachers, 1 ESL, 12 exceptional ed -includes assistants?)

6 Guidance faculty

ratio = 15/48 or roughly 1:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*


Phillips: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/phillips/ (directory link)

48 classroom teachers (inc voc-tech)

14 support faculty for special needs: 1 AVID, 1 ESL, 3 Reading and Math Support, 9 Disabled (LD, Autistic, and BED)

5 Guidance faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*

ratio = 14/48 or roughly 1:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty


I am glad we agree that there is a point where being bored and abandoned is not acceptable- that point where you would take action. Now we need to move on to what to do about that when it is happening in almost every classroom in a school. Any ideas besides parents compensate for everything or advocate for everything? I believe the fundamental system should be one that actually works most of the time so the advocacy is really for child specific needs and not a constant state of asking for the instruction we were already promised.

What would you do if most of the school was not differentiating instruction and had actually decided fast learners should never be organized to work together?


Democracy works in strange ways here in the Southen Part of Heaven. Most places, a person lobbies for stuff that will benefit him, cuts a deal with another person who is lobbying for stuff that will benefit her, and both walks away with something. That's just politics. Here, it seems, people are supposed to lobby for what the *other* person needs, and if they don't, they risk all sorts of nasty labels.


If you aren't advocating for more resources for all the community's children then you have no right to claim "it's not a zero sum game." Now do you get it?


Mark---you still haven't answered the question. What did the mother who came to the board meeting last week ask for? Permission to play (without knowing the rules of the system) or had her child been denied part time enrollment and she was appealing that decision? I would be happy to write a letter in her child's favor if he/she has been denied the right to play sports or participate in the arts or social events, as long as she followed the guidelines for making that happen. I've checked the BOE website and minutes of the meeting are not provided.

A (not so) quick comment to Q C's assertion "Furthermore a first grader who reads at the fifth grade level is not going to fit in no matter what the classroom arrangements are. "

I can't address many 1st graders reading at 5th grade level,(I only have acces to MY kids scores)but I could list at least 6 or 7 kids, without thinking too hard, who were reading at above 10th grade level by 3rd grade. Now, we're not talking SUBJECT mater, we are talking comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. While I will admit they weren't the most POPULAR kids in their classes, none of them were suicidal or homicidal. They all look to be turning into productive, intersting adults. All would tell you that MS was less than pleasant--( I have heard the word "hell" usedand several had the "advantage" of advanced classes at MS. (Two of them were at McDougle.) Most of them were pretty happy campers, and the ones that weren't had parents with enough sense to take them to therapy so they WOULDN'T become suicidal or homicidal. Childhood depression has lots of causes--let's not over-simplify, shall we?


I beg everyone's indulgence--I desperately need a new keyboard and I just noticed several typos and at least one missing parens---my bad. Sorry if my posts have been otugh to read. Maybe I can get to Staples today!


Here's a radical idea--do away with grade levels. Let each child learn according to their ability instead of trying to generalize ability according to chronological age; let children progress in each subject at different ability levels; in other words, treat our children as if they were each a unique individual--regardless of their gender, race, or SES.

I used to know this family who had a 3 year old boy who could do 6th grade math. The Greensboro Friends' school let the child begin school at age 4 and go to the 6th grade classroom when they were doing math. Then he went back to his kindergarten classroom to play, learn literacy skills, etc. Like QC says, the kid will probably never fit in, but at least the Friends school treated the kid as an individual rather than the product of a formula. The public system was not willing to be so flexible.

I agree with QC that advanced standing programs are a form of tracking/racism--I've said so several times during this discussion. But if the system didn't try to fit kids into a generalized system according to their chronological age, then we wouldn't need to look at advanced standing courses to keep some kids engaged while the others (by default considered slower) trudged along trying to be normal.

I understand the concept of white privilege and I know that despite growing up poor, I am a victim of it. But I don't think accepting that some kids are bored and unchallenged in schools, regardless of their skin color or SES, is acceptable...anymore than I think leaving some kids behind should be accepted. If this argument were a Venn diagram the 2 sides would be discrete, non overlapping circles. What Tracy has advocated is looking for solutions to bring the circles into contact with one another.

Why can't we quit focusing on advanced standing curricula and talk about why the school administration is unwilling to look for/discuss solutions that keep *all* kids engaged and challenged?

Now THERE'S an idea. A modified version of the one-room schoolhouse! Before Mark says it--I'll say it for him--that's the principle homeschooling works on. I'll admit it--it's true.



I get it.

That would mean that until you are willing to see that all the children includes children who learn quickly your own criteria eliminate your right to participate in the discussion.

Probably just as well as your statement shows that you did not choose to review what has been written before deciding you knew what we were talking about. Every person who has actually read the thread already knows that I have a developmentally disabled child and many know I am on the EEAC. That is the district-wide Exceptional Education Advisory Board. Without knowing your name I can't say if I met you there or not.

I also wouldn't know if you were involved in advocating for our fragile students in other areas. Perhaps you saw the copies of studies from Canada that I sent to the high school reform committee. Those would be the ones that showed that block scheduling exerts it's greatest harm on our fragile and borderline students. Gifted students get lower AP scores but they aren't forced out of pre-college courses or into less challenging tracks because of the intensity of block schedule classes. Fragile students are forced out.

Others who know me know that my absolute certainty that gifted children are being viewed with hostility and resentment and treated unjustly comes from the fact that my family lives that dichotomy every day. I see how well my son is treated and how decisions about his education are made versus how my daughter is treated and there is no overlap. He is not treated with resentment and hostility. He is not singled out to be removed from his peers. His parents are treated with respect and compassion. Decisions are made based on respect for his indivdual worth and needs. Even the janitor would never say things about him that 'professionals" employed as Gifted specialists have said about my daughter. Even some of the people who are supposed to advocate for these children treat them disdainfully and disrespectfully.

I see the academically gifted children being scapegoated for societal issues that they had and have no part in. The inability of Dr. Pedersen's administration and some BOE members to separate their blanket resentment and anger about those issues from the children is extreme and unjustifiable. Until you are willing to see them as children, not pawns, it is unlikely you will be able to do more than scream anonymous rhetoric from the sidelines.

Meanwhile those of us in the middle, regardless of which camp extremists want to put us in, who see children as children and not pawns, have work to do. Most of those people who think more calmly about these questions have been going about their lives trusting that Dr. Pedersen and the BOE would be just and value all of the students. They are beginning to wake up and to realize that trust is misplaced. They started showing up at the polls and more realize what is going on each passing day. These are the people who know that you cannot create a just society on a foundation of injustice and revenge. They have a greater vision and higher standards than Dr. Pedersen. They believe that it is possible and must be possible to use the best practices that already exist to challenge as many children as possible and that the students outside of that will require even more creative support. They believe that this district is capable of more and they will insist on it. We have no disposable children - minority or majority, academically gifted, middle of the road or fragile learners. The vast numbers of parents of majority and minority students who care about children as children, who love their children and want the best for them, do not want other children left behind or hurt. When I talk with the adminstration it is difficult to have any hope. When I talk with parents I know we are better than this and we will not settle for less.

Moving onto that work -


I agree with Terri and have tried to think of a way to really eliminate age tracking, but it is hard. The district is supposed to facilitate children attending higher grade classes, but the truth is, they make parents fight tooth and nail for it. Even then it is frequently not completely possible because different grades have classes at different times so it is not just trading math for math. So I think - why not have all the grades take math at the same time - except that the resource teachers schedule time to support children in the classroom. They cannot be in six grades at once. Friends does not have that responsibility.

So then I wonder well what about eliminating age tracking at all. Have multi-age classrooms where children go based on what level they are performing at. Sounds better, but does it really encourage everyone to help a child do their best if they could just do it over next year as a routine option. I don't know the answer to that. I just ask the question.

I would love to hear a way to make that work in public school, but I haven't been able to think of one.


QC and others:

Please read the book entitled "Smart Boys" which is based on years of research and several studies. It does include sections on real examples of gifted boys who did commit suicide. I never said that removal of advanced LA ALONE would cause such a thing, so apparently you need to read closer. I did elude to the fact that the removal of nearly all gifted schooling "options" as being part of the problem. Anyway, I'm not really worried in that way about my son, but I'm also not "making it up" as it (suicide) apparently has happened a lot to gifted boys (reference: "Smart Boys" book). There's also a section in the book about gifted unchallenged boys who end up on the fringe of society. Hey, I happen to know a couple of adults like that;l fancy that! One of them has a wife who is ready to pull her hair out. His IQ is around 170 or 180, but he's so idealistic he can't hold a job and keeps driving around with a revoked driver's license and they are about to go bankrupt. I thank God it's not me in that situation.

After spending 3 of the last 4 months pouring through research on the subject of grouping children based on ability and otherwise, I'm convinced that if it is done correctly, it helps all ability levels of children. After over a year of doing independent book studies on the emotional and academic ramifications of not challenging gifted children can hurt them, I think I understand a lot more than I did before.

The fictional child I described, in the younger years, is my first grader. I know for a fact that there is a boy just like him in the next classroom over. I have been told that there are about 3-5 kids like him in his grade, so THERE ARE PLENTY LIKE HIM, QC. But, they are purposely separated ("heterogeneous classroom assignments") from eachother and rarely brought together. Can anyone explain who that is helping? Does each teacher in each class have the time to teach to one precocious student to keep him/her challenged? Wouldn't it make sense to cluster them together next year and have the rest of the class be mixed-ability to achieve the best of both worlds? This is plain common sense and a straight-forward problem, but our district seems to grapple with even this easy of a situation.

I don't want to get into the other more complex grouping concepts as it would probably spin QC's head to the point where he/she is spewing major chuck-up onto this posting. I'm bowing out of the chitter-chatter here. Bye!

p.s. It's about time for one of dimion's comedic one-liners.

Actually Terri, Carrboro Elementary had multi-aged classrooms backin the 90's, when my kids were there. More out of neccessity than anything, Ithink, but they worked well for my older boy. Younger kid wasn't in multi-aged classsroom--mores the pity. My kid was in a 2/3 then a 3/4. Worked well on all levels--but then he had teachers who were masters of "differentiated education"--but I don't think they called it that. They just called it teaching...

He was certainly challenged. Was he bored? Sure. But when he came home and complained I suggested that he find something interesting to DO. Explore "whatever" in greater depth--ask the teacher for some suggestions, read a book--SOMETHING. I NEVER expressed sympathy...you're bored? FIND SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO DO. Now, granted, he did not have one of those teachers I've read about that refuse to let a child work ahead...if he had I'd have been in there so fast it ouwld've made your head spin...but I have always felt that it is our RESPONSIBILITY AS PARENTS to teach kids like this how to TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES. I also think there are all kinds of intelligence, and I know for a FACT my kids learned a great deal from the other kids.

The next paragraph is tangental---

Where did this idea that children should NEVER be subjected to boredom come from? Do you find every minute of every day of YOUR life exciting? Learning to cope with bouts of boredom is a lifeskill. Learning that being smart is not neccessarily the be-all end-all is important as well. To this day my children do not know their IQ's. (It is AMAZING to me how freely children bandy this info about.) They have asked, and there father and I always answer: "You are bright enough to do whatever you want to do. That is all YOU need to know." I suppose if the 18 y/o wanted to know we would tell him--but he hasn't asked since Middle School. I think he figured out that the NUMBER wasn't that important...


Melanie--There are still dual grade classrooms. But they still generalize within a couple of chronological years--it's a start but not as open as I would like to see. As for this being consistent with Mark's ideas--maybe on one level. But as I've understood his arguments, he doesn't believe in state-mandated education. I do.

Terri--I wasn't even considering the whole "no state-mandated education thing." As the granddaughter of a brillliant woman who was forced to leave school at the end of eigth grade to work on her father's farm, I'm a beleiver in state mandated education as well.


At the basis of this debate seems to be the misconception that the district does nothing for the struggling underachiever and throws lots of resources at the Gifted Child. Unfortunately, the number point to the other extreme. Over the years, the "special needs" programs in the district have grown and grown. We fund remedial reading and math programs at an enormous rate. These programs have been fairly effective, so I am *not* advocating eliminating them. Some of the early reading programs at the elementary level are astonishingly successful at bringing students up to grade level and benefitting everyone in the long run.

Most every school has 13-15 + teachers whose jobs it is to support the struggling student. The "enrichment specialist" now functions as a classroom advisor, not unlike the school librarian. What could it hurt to fund some programs for the child at the other end of the spectrum?

What I am not sure everyone understands is the amount of money that this district devotes to "special needs" versus this pittance that we are fighting for to keep a small handful of AG classes available. I feel that the special needs children do require extra support and that it would be cruel to deny them that. But is it equally cruel to squash a gifted child by providing them no services.

The numbers below show how the teaching faculty resources are spread out among 3 Chapel Hill elementary schools and 2 middle schools. I pulled these numbers from the job descriptions on the school's web pages. In summary:

In the average elementary school, there are:

2 special needs faculty for every 3 classroom faculty

1.3 enrichment specialists for the entire student body

In the average middle school, there are:

1 special needs faculty for every 3 classroom faculty

1 enrichment specialist for the entire student body

Breakdowns by school:

FPG: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/fpglevelone/contact.asp

25 classroom teachers

20 support faculty for special needs:

2 Autism teachers (has two self-contained autistic classrooms as well as mainstreamed autistic programs)

9 reading/resource teachers

2 Speech/Language Pathologist

2 ESL (english as a Second LAnguage)

1 OT (Occupational Therapy)

1 Psychologist

1 School Counselor

1 Family Specialist

1 Program Facilitator

ratio = 20/25 or roughly 4:5 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*



19 classroom teachers

12 support faculty for special needs:

4 reading/resource teachers

1 Literacy Coordinator

1 Speech/Language Pathologist

2 Family Specialists

1 Psychologist

1 Guidance

1 EC Program Facilitator

ratio = 12/19 or roughly 2:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

2 enrichment teachers/specialist (has the self-contained AG classrooms)*


Seawell: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/seawell/faculty.html

22 classroom teachers

13 support faculty for special needs:

7 reading/resource teachers

1 Speech/Language Pathologist

1 OT

1 School Counselor

1 Family Specialist

1 LEA rep

ratio = 13/22 or roughly 3:5 ration of special needs to classroom faculty.

2 AG teachers*



Elementary school totals:

45 special needs teachers:66 classroom teachers = roughly 2:3 ratio

with 1.3 enrichment specialists per school



Middle Schools


McDougle Middle:http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/mcdmidl/staffcurriculum.html

48 classroom teachers (inc voc-tech)

15 support faculty for special needs:

2 Reading Teachers


12 exceptional ed (includes assistants?)

6 Guidance faculty

ratio = 15/48 or roughly 1:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*


Phillips: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/phillips/ (directory link)

48 classroom teachers (inc voc-tech)

14 support faculty for special needs:



3 Reading and Math Support

9 Disabled (LD, Autistic, and BED)

5 Guidance faculty

1 Enrichment Specialist*

ratio = 14/48 or roughly 1:3 ration of special needs to classroom faculty



Middle school totals:

29 special needs teachers:96 classroom teachers = roughly 1:3 ratio

with 1 enrichment specialist per school




*"The Enrichment Specialist performs many important tasks for our school. She works with a variety of people, including students, teachers and the administration. She analyzes test data and coordinates services to make sure students are challenged in their courses. As another part of our enrichment specialist's busy day, she helps teachers prepare lessons which are exciting and interesting. Often she works with a small group of students on a special assignment. Finally, the enrichment specialist is responsible for our special program called Clusters. To find out more about Clusters, go to our Cluster page."


Heard the point Melanie - although I am not sure what you meant by what "might" happen as sixth grade advanced math and language arts ended last year and they did make the final decision on seventh grade. There was no "potential" about the vote or the changes that already happened. They were quite definitive.

Yes I hear that you don't think canceling seventh grade advanced language arts is the end of the world and I am quite certain I have agreed with you several times. I was talking about what to do now that it already happened and the district is not doing what it promised and indeed had no intention of doing so.

Yes I can advocate for my daughter or take her to private school but I am talking about all of the children not just those with parents who can help protect them. As I already said this decision doesn't actually affect my daughter as she will have advanced LA in seventh and eighth grade. I am speaking from a sense of duty to children besides my own.

To answer your questions : We were promised comprehensive clustering. Instead 80 to 85% of the students were randomly assigned. It is the children who were clustered - 10 per team in two groups of five who we were promised would have the peer working itme and instruction differentiated to their needs that may work together by chance, but never as the cluster group that was promised. Groups of five which are far below the number to meet the promise that only two to three clusters would be in a class.

I have been told by someone who has the background and involvment to know, that only a few teachers in the school can differentiate instruction. That fits with Ms Faley's statement that the teachers needed to be forced to learn it by removing any option and my daughter's report that she gets some differentiated homework and projects - though almost never appropriate for her- and no differentiation of instruction.

Or let me talk about our elementary school.

What about the boy at our home elementary school who is extremely bright but did alright through fourth grade because he was clustered with a group of other particularly fast learners. Then in fifth grade the message came through that equity required those children be divided amongst classes and the pull-out classes that had sustained them were cancelled. Now I know for a fact that the principal at this school knew that there were NO teachers in fifth grade prepared to differentiate instruction. NONE. I know this because he told me to my face when we were trying to decide what would be right for our daughter. I don't know why he admitted it. Maybe he felt guitly about what they had done to my daughter in fourth grade or maybe he felt more sympathy for us because he knew my son. Regardless, he knew the teachers were not prepared and yet he went ahead and removed every support that had given that boy and his peers any time in the week when the teaching came close to what they needed. So the child was stuck in a class by himself. The teacher tried - it isn't for lack of caring. She created lessons just for him. Then he got to be separated from the rest of the class to work by himself. He was now officially labelled in the eyes of the children as different. Rather than live with that in fifth grade he asked to not have different work and instead spent much of the day drawing all over his arms. His parents talked ot the principal repeatedly. They say the principal stopped returning their calls and they finally gave up and had him transferred to the tier 1 program. This is the same school that identifies only half the usual nummber of gifted students and took away the half time gifted specialist position.

Who did that help? Were the teachers better off for having to either ignore the fast learner they got stuck with or to design lessons for one child? Were the students better off because the teacher had to do that.

My point is that the experiences your children have had are not universal nor is the support that you give them. Yes, if the district refuses to teach her I can take my daughter to private school. What is her best friend supposed to do. A cute bright girl gowing up with divorced parents, a father with a history of emotionally and physically abusing the children, living in an apartment on social security disability because her mother is completely disabled. the district says that if she isn't challenged it is up to her abusive father or disabled mother to argue for her. Would you like to discuss how often that has happened? Just tough luck for her? She doesn't get your advice. She decides she doesn't have to do assignments that she feels are beneath her. She does not know how to keep working at something that doesn't come easy. She won't even work at a scrabble game. She has every bit of potential my daughter has but as long as all the gifted children are rich white kids who the district has no responsibility to, she doesn't even exist. Have I tried to advocate for her - yes. Did I try to support her mom in advocating. yes. Nice try but the teachers in her elementary school fourth and fifth grade were not able differentiate instruction. So advocacy doesn't get you very far. She doesn't need tutoring. she needs to be respected, challenged and engaged. Besides, she is more like the child you describe - sits quietly and doesn't bother anyone - so she didn't qualify for the special lesson plan option. She just sat in the class floats through school. She is on the wrong road and it is Dr. Pedersen and the Board that are to blame. it is Ms. Faley who is to blame when she decided that it was better to use children as weapons then figure out how to engage teachers.

So I ask again - not for an opinion on advanced classes or what the ideal family should do. I want to know what responsibility the district has to the children. i want to know what to do when the administration refuses to accept that responsibility. i want to know what we - you and I and the others who care - owe to the children who don't have us for parents.

Those are the questions I believe we need to be answering.


Tracey--WHAT school is this happening at? And when there are SO MANY bright kids in every class (per your statements earlier) how are they finding enough "average kids" to make certain that NONE of the smart kids EVER works together? Are they importing them?

I don't know what I would do, Tracey. I've always compensated and advocated--and tutored others kids as well. And trust me, I had to do lots of all. As have many of my friends.

I will own that group projects are the bane of every self-sufficient, concientious child's existence. And I will agree that the kids who the teachers KNOW will do the work get parcelled out between the groups...but that was happening even when my kids were in Elementary and MS--and even in the advanced classes...I'm not saying that the schools couldn't do a better job. My main point has been that the POTENTIAL elimination of these classes (and they HAVEN'T made the final decision)is not the end of the world.


And now, Ithink I will bow out of THIS aspect of the thread--as I seem to be repeating myself. It's been intersting. It made for great break from closet cleaning--which has been this weekend's chore. Whenever I had tomuch DUST I came and checked on the board.(I really shoudl clena out the closets more than once every seven years...)

We all want what is best for our children--and no one wants to harm any one else's children. NO ONE. Certainly not Gloria Faley. Certainly not Mike Kelley--or anyone else who has posted on this board. (with the possible exception of dimion--HIM I'm not so certain about! ;-) )

Keep that in mind.


I'd just like to point out that this is one blockbuster of a record-setting topic. Most posts, longest posts, maybe the most passionate posts...


I wish people would work out the problems with one another through email instead of through this forum. All the sniping at individuals here is going to keep people from participating and expressing themselves freely. See the instructions: "Honor your own viewpoints by expressing them thoughtfully, and treating your fellow discussers at least as well as you would treat your neighbor (ie: someone you have to get along with even if you don't like each other). Try to criciticize ideas instead of people. In other words, play nice!"

I still think a pistol duel would solve ALL this sniping!

As anyone who has sat in on meetings about gifted ed with me knows, I have made the point over and over that Chapel Hill parents aren't asking for more money to be spent on gifted ed. It is clear to anyone who volunteers in the schools that money is tight and that when the district spends on one thing, they will have to spend less on others. When I say a zero-sum game, I am not discussing money. It doesn't cost any more to cluster children or to give them differentiated instruction. I would argue that the current way differentiation is implemented is quite expensive, in that it requires a great deal of teacher training and thus time. One can reshape how children are grouped throughout the day (and I think it should vary) without costing a dime. If I had a million extra dollars to pour into the schools in our district, I would spend it on teachers' salaries, support staff salaries, and choices that would lower the teacher student ration in all our elementary schools. Gifted students don't need more money--they need more chances to study and learn at the best level for them. The same is true for struggling students, ESL students, exceptional ed kids, etc...

Approaches to Differentiation in Primary Schools -

An interesting report by the government of Northern Ireland on their results of the implementation of differentation in the years 1993-96:


Here's their summary, which seems to be much the same as we are hearing in Chapel Hill from the parents and teachers:

Key Points

* Differentiation was defined as 'the process whereby an attempt is made to provide learning experiences which are matched to the needs, capabilities and previous learning of individual pupils'.

* School subject co­ordinators recommended the use of a range of differentiation techniques including whole class teaching, group work and individual attention.

* Few schools had a specific, whole school policy on differentiation, although the majority of Principals said it was implicit in all subject planning.

* The largest proportion of teachers said they made provision for a wide range of pupil attainment, a substantial minority made provision for lower and higher attainers, and a minority did so for lower attainers only.

* Differentiation was mostly by task set in English, mathematics and science. However differentiation was more difficult in science with some teachers differentiating on the basis of anticipating a different outcome for the same task, except where the less able had to have an easier task.

* Major problems in providing differentiation identified by Principals, subject co­ordinators in schools, teachers and Education and Library Board staff were lack of time, limited human resources, pressure from other educational innovations and classroom management.

* Board staff said teachers reported difficulty in drawing up schemes of work and developing supporting materials to cover the full range of pupil ability.

* Teachers reported that they received no advice in school on grouping for differentiation although most Principals and over half the subject co­ordinators said advice was given.

* Principals and teachers had not received any in­service (INSET) support specifically for differentiation in the last 3 years and found in­service training days to be only of moderate relevance to differentiation. In­school support was felt by most teachers to be of lasting value.


As promised I have written to the school board in favor of Ms. Evans' son. Sorry I don't understand the deep underlying issues you keep referring to and why following the rules isn't sufficient. What matters to me is making sure this kid as well as all the others we've been discussing here have equal opportunities to grow, learn, and have a little fun while doing so.

Frankly, I am tried of Mrs. Burger's continued inaccuracy about me (there are so many). I am quite sorry that you have a personel problem with me. I have tried very hard to understand you and to listen.

As a school board member, I spent 3 hours one afternoon with Mrs. Burger trying to explain what a differentiated lesson looked like. I tried to do this is the most polite way as possible. I tried to explain why you try to find a child's strength and you build upon that strength. I tried to explain that children learn by sight, touch, taste, and smell.

It is the school system's responsiblity to find a way to engage a children. To find ways to make them lifelong learners. To allow them to love education for the sake of learning rather than trying to make it into an "advanced" class.

I have been a strong advocate for providing strong and definitive staff development for our teacher regarding a host of issues including differentiation. I have been a strong advocate to provide the time (a precious thing to a teacher) for teachers to learn from staff development and from each other. I will remind you that I was heartily endorsed by both teacher organizations.

There are many wonderful examples of lesson plans using differentiation. Examples that show children excited about learning rather than just remembering facts. In fact, at the board meeting I displayed exactly one of the staff development (one of many) books used.

I have sat in countless meeting with teachers talking about how to make our curriculum more exciting and more engaging. I watched teacher become excited about the possibilities.

I don't use children as "weapons". I find that statement extraordinary. I can easily tell you, Mrs Burger that I have spent countless hours for the last 10 years protecting children from many backgrounds and educational levels.

I want them to learn what is exciting about education rather than be forced feed facts to meet the criteria of being in a quote advanced class.

Mrs. Burger definition of Mr. Singleton workshops is both inaccurate and unfair. These workshops have created a place for true conversation around difficult issues between human beings. These workshops have created equity teams at each school that have advocated and supported programs for a wide range of students. Those teams are new, enriching, and still blooming. Hopefully, they will continue to be allowed to bloom.

Savant, You're ignoring history. These programs (by which I assume you mean advance standing programs) have not made any significant difference in narrowing the achievement gap--in fact, there is evidence that they widen the gap--that's why they are considered to be just another form of tracking. You can argue from a logical basis that they SHOULD make a difference, but the data says otherwise.

My brain is getting getting stretch marks just trying to figure out a way to solve these problems.

Anyway, Terri - Inger Evans went to the school board meeting to request that her son be allowed to try out for the McDougle Middle School baseball team. You may believe that the issue hinges entirely on the policy you cites, but I'm not so sure. For reasons I've mentioned before and the fact that the intent of all those policies is not violated by letting a kid try out for the team. And I'll note again - because i think this is probably the most important point - no-one can come up with a good reason that supports the policy.

Since it is Martin Luther King Day it's worth reflecting on the fact that he BROKE THE RULES. Sometimes a rule with no real worth just needs to be broken (or changed).


I think Tracy makes an important reply to the arguments that "my kids turned out okay" or "I turned out okay." A common theme in these happy endings is that a parent was heavily involved in the child's education. I have yet to hear the story about a sharp kid from a low income family who became a cardio-thoracic surgeon despite the fact that his schools never detected his talents and despite the fact that he had little home support because both parents worked long hours at low wage jobs.

Dismantling programs for children with higher levels of readiness will disproportionately hurt the high readiness student with little or no home support. Because his/her peer with stay-at-home parents or greater resources will be served in some other way, denying the low income child these opportunities will perpetuate (and possibly increase) the socio-economic disparity of the two families.

Bottom line: These classes and programs can create opportunity for kids who will not get it anywhere else.

hey, QC--never hated you. I don't even KNOW you! I agree--kids like Lenny Ng ( a math whiz who scored 800 on the SAT when he was in--what,6th grade?) Are never going to get their needs met adequately in a standard public school...so he took math classes at Carolina. He also hung around his "non-gifted" agemates and was a fairly popular kid, if memory serves.


I'll answer Tracey's last statement. We owe ALL the children reasoned,reasonable debate. When specific needs are not met at specific schools, then that should be drawn to the attention of the principal, the superintendant, and the schoolboard. We need to show our kids that adversity can be overcome. We need to demonstrate that even when they do not get that to which they are "legally entitled" we will work to make sure they (and their friends) are OK. We should volunteer in the schools to take some of the burden off of the teachers. We should do what we can--and bring a few along for the ride. If we ALL did that, then there wouldn't be a problem.

Tracey, I'm certain you do all of the above. And certainly, it is within your rights and responsibilities to question the school board and it's decisions. All I am suggesting is that there are multiple ways to solve a problem. have been involved with this system for the better part of 15 years. It is not perfect. It will never BE perfect. But if we could all just "do what we can" instead of FIGHTING about it--then it might get a little closer.

Melanie See

QC--I don't hate you, never did and never would based on an anonymous conversation on the web :)

The practice you describe of having students help one another reflects the old adage--"the best way to learn a subject is to teach it". But that strategy can be instructional, ie., intentionally planned and managed by the teacher or it can be a "let me figure out what to do with these kids (unstructured, unmanaged by the teacher)." One way works, the other might/might not. This is an issue that requires training and support for teachers--of the sort that they do not currently receive.

I've thought more about Tracy's plea for advice on "what to do"--have decided I'll be going to school board meetings from now on. I encourage others who care about this to find a way they can get involved as well.

Great questions Tracy. Thanks for all the work you have done here to educate those of who don't have children in the system but who believe education is the basis for a democratic society. I wish I had answers, heck I wish I had just one answer....but I promise, I'll be doing more research.

Sorry , I was writing while melanie was excusing herself so i guess we won't find out what she thinks we owe the other children.


Alright, I promise to be nice if you promise to read this post, okay?

1) I think some of you are missing one of my points (and its because i haven't stated it clearly):

There is value to participating in classes with people who are not like you.

I am not talking about race or class. I'm talking about interacting with other human beings who are not the same as you. It broadens one's view of the world. Also, very bright kids can actually be helpful in the pedagogical process. Indeed, by understanding algebra to the point that you can assist classmates in learning it, you yourself have learned many valuable skills - relating to other people, a deeper level of understanding of algebra and the importance of viewing a subject from many different angles. This is how I learned algebra and helped my fellow students learn algebra. That's how I know.

2) Why are (many of) you obsessed with comparing different schools' EOG test scores and other school stats? I would guess that you (like I) place little value on these tests. Furthermore, the sample sizes you are dealing with are probably statistically insiginifcant - or if they are statistically significant, I don't believe any of you have demonstrated such significance.

Why do you insist on suggesting that I am treating children as pawns? What do you imagine is my ideological battle? No I haven't read the literature and that's partly because I trust my own experience as an 'Advanced' student having gone to both public and private schools (including tracked and untracked public schools). I know from my own experience that there can be significant educational value to being in a class of students operating at many different levels.

3) If I earlier ascribed 'simplistic' motives to some of you, then my apologies, but you should know how you sound(ed) with many of your initial comments. You are making a big mistake if you think that America can or should overlook the historic use of tracking/GT/advanced classes to achieve racial/class segregation. It was used that way and (like it or not) some of your allies continue to try to use it that way.

4) Tracy, of course I read your post and of course I know you have a developmentally disabled child. I thought you might be particularly sympathetic with my point. Dabney Grinnan and others who assert that "education is not a zero sum game" are being intellectually dishonest. Of course education is not zero-sum, but education dollars ARE limited. Those who are advocating for expansion (or preservation) of funding for advanced classes are advocating for one group of kids. To the extent that some people on this list may be advocating for school funding on many fronts (ie not just advanced classes), then those folks have a more legitimacy in talking about the zero-sum issue. Others are just saying spend more money on my kid (and by necessary implication), not on others' kids. It has to be that way. Consider it this way:

If we had an additional $1 Million to spend on education next year, where should we spend it? Advanced classes? Drop-out intervention? Phoenix Academy type of programs? Pregnancy Prevention? After school tutoring? Headstart? Computers in classrooms? Teacher pay raises? etc. etc. etc.

I don't know. All of those things sound important, but we only have so much money to work with. Even if we had more money to work with, the supply would be necessarily limited. The County Commission cannot (and should not) give the schools a blank check.

This particular point is not meant to prove anything about whether we should or should not have Advanced classes.

5) Great points about multi-age classes etc. I really think that sort of thing is the solution. When I learned geometry in high school, it was not about Advanced Geometry and regular Geometry. It was just Geometry - some of us took it as freshmen, some as sophomores and some as juniors. I realize that 7th grade Language Arts is a different issue than Geometry, of course.

Let me also point out that one of my class mates took Calculus in 8th grade! Eight Grade! He is a really brilliant guy and he took the class after school three days a week at a prestigious local University (not around here). And that is the way it should be.

I bet Paul Jones's kid is that smart. If he's anything like Paul then he probably is. I actually don't think we should have our public schools try to meet needs like this. We need to work with UNC and Durham Tech to meet such needs.

Do you all hate me still?

Let me come back again briefly, I do not believe that any parents are attempting to hold down children for reasons of race. This does not mean that some solutions are not good or fair for many of the reasons mentioned above about standardized tests. I agree that some tests have been shown to have cultural slants. I do agree that problems of the racial divide should be addressed.

What I do not agree with is calling anyone who does not buy into your versions of policy 'racist' or any version of racist. I point directly to this behavior in Gloria's public statements and in Ruby's post. This is not unlike Rightists calling anyone to the Left of Attilla a 'Communist' or a Leftist calling anyone who doesn't agree with them a counter-revolutionary.

My experience with Michael Kelly is that he is a fair, honest and concerned community member and parent. I'm certain that he will carry his concerns and his engagement wisely and as fairly as he understands in his work with the school board.


Thanks for giving me a fair hearing. i do sincerely appreciate it. I hope I understand that there are real reasons for the NAACP to challenge the district. I hope that I support many of those same causes. I would explain that the reason the raven's test is being disccussed is because it is proven to do a better job of identifying minority gifted students than the current performance and verbal based system we use now.

None of us are experts in this but we see a real problem and are, like the NAACP, trying to say something needs to be done. I don't believe the NAACP is even aware of the petition, never mind having decided to reject it. I do not know if they would support it or not, but I hope that as it arrises from common interest and common belief that business as usual is not enough, that they would consider it. Pretending that a system for the majority works for all children is no longer acceptable. I hope they would consider it and if they disagree or recommend something else, they would talk to us. We are just looking for a step in the right direction. If there is a better step available that would be great. margaret would change the petition in a minute. She has "no horse in this race", she is just a very pregnant stay at home mom who cares and wants to help. She tried to talk to administration reps about this but it was not successful so she decided to take matters into her own hands. I love her for stepping up to the plate even when her own plate getting ready for another baby is quite full.

We are not looking to perpetuate the old, or to introduce just another variation of what did not work before, but the old is staying if we do nothing about it. margaret is saying that we need to stand as a community and say this is important. These children matter. It is not the specific test that matters as much as recognizing the problem and looking for help. The goal of the RAven's test is to recognize different forms of gifted intellect in more children expecially our minority children. It has been shown to do that, but it could only be seen as one step on the journey, not a final answer.

i hope that clarifies it a bit.


I agree with Ruby that this issue should be considered from the context of a racial divide. The achievement gap has been a point of contention in this community since at least the 1980s. I understand that new residents come into the community and are unaware of the historical issues that influence decisions, such as eliminating the advanced standing courses, but history plays an important role in this kind of policy making and must be acknowledged, even if you don't agree with the outcomes of those policies.

I am NOT accusing any parents who care about the quality of their kids education of being racist, but I am supporting the NAACP in their frustrations in dealing with a system that OVER TIME has failed their kids. The Raven's test being promoted through the online petition that is circulating among local parents is just another standardized test, and minority kids almost always perform lower on standardized tests. So why would the NAACP support such a solution; it seems like a solution begging to be called racist IMHO.

I have a great deal of respect for parents such as Tracy Burger who have put so much thought and heart into finding a way to support ALL children--not just her own. While I think it is incredibly unfair for anyone to lump her into the racist category, I still think its understandable for the NAACP to claim racism toward any system that supports tracking or utilizes strategies that are known to penalize minority kids.


I understand, but again, I am not talking about what is possible if it is done correctly , but what is the reality when it has been done poorly and for the wrong reasons.

The constellations project sounds interesting. The teachers will be angry at me for using this example again, but unlike your son, my daughter was asked to make a crape paper flag. Little pieces of crape paper glued to a page in three colors like she did in pre-school. She spent part of winter break making a diorama of a hovel. More interesting, but she did not actually learn any more than she new before. They only had to include five facts that had been taught in class. There was no independent research. There was no higher order integration of information. There has been no independent research. Writing a poem and pretending to write diary entries were more interesting, but do not require the higher order integration that she enjoys. They are just retelling the story. Nothing seems to be moving up in the Bloom's taxonomy.

Last year she was in a class that did wonderful challenging group work and differentiated instruction through out the year. She was in groups that did internet research for 30 slide power point presentations. There were no work sheets the entire year. Projects required longterm planning over a couple months. The in-class discussion was focused at a much higher level. The children all inspired each other to work harder. They had to create their own web pages. Most of the children submitted their homework by email. One month she one the writer of the month award voted by her classmates. She was part of a chorus that took all comers and has turned them into the first place elementary school show choir at the Carrowinds Southeastern states competition every year for the last seven years. Those were high expectations.

I don't blame her teachers who cannot be expected to make a transition like this in a few months. it would be like asking someone who doesn't jog to run a marathon next week. I don't claim that they aren't still doing a great job for many of their students. I do say that I constantly hear form parents who had children in the school in the past who tell you that their younger children are markedly less challenged and engaged than they were a few years ago.

I am glad that Mcdougle works for many children. I am angry that the reality of education at my daughter's school does not matter in the discussion. I cannot tell her everything is fine because theoretically this model could work someday. They are not doing any of the things it takes to make it work at schools that were not designed for it. Dr. Tomlinson (the district consultant) has written an entire book on how to make that transition and we have not and are not doing any of the things she talks about. Believe me, I have read the book.

I am told that the Mcdougle elem Ag specialist liked my description of differentiation at one of our general meetings. I said that it is not the enemy. Differentiation has been around since the one room school house. The question is what does it take to do it successfully and what other systems need to be in place so that outlying children who may not be served by a given teacher or a given system are still challenged and educated?

As for the issue of name calling school board members. I was not there so I have only the reports here syaing that it happened. If it did I would find that regretable and unacceptable. I doubt that would have been tolerated by Ms. faley. when she was a member. Indeed I can imagine that the board chairperson would have set clear limits. Did Ms. Carter respond with limits at this meeting? Or was the slander judged acceptable because the target was a white male. Our district has a pattern of this in the past. This is not progress or tolerance. Did she accuse jamezetta of anything or was she allowed to disagree with Ms. Faley because she was not male? These are questions that I would ask anyone who was there.

I can't support any form of intolerance and do not believe that the ethnicity or sex of the target gives license to doing what would not be tolerated if we change the words to identify another group. I have taken to calling this the substitution test. If it isn't ok to say about one group, it is not ok to say it about any group. It is simple, powerful and I try to live by it. I invite others to do the same.

Ruby--I'm NOT nit-picking ( thank GOODNESS my kids are out of elementary school--but that is a story for another day) BUT--they don't OFFER Advanced Placement classes at the middle high level. They do, however, offer ADVANCED sections of Math and Language arts. I'm not certain how elimination of the advanced sections would effect kids in LA--but if they don't group kids according to Math proficiency, it could be a problem. There is such a HUGE span of proficiency in math--and I'd have to believe it would be diffficult to teach pre-algebra (or algebra or geometry!)at the same time one was trying to teach kids to add fractions...

In LA you could just have the kids reading different stuff...or answering more complex questions...or writing more complex papers...

My older boy started out at McDougle and they didn'thave advanced LA or Math--when we moved to the Phillips district after he finished 6th grade he was placed in advanced LA and pre-algebra. The math was important--he would have benefitted if he'd been offered pre-algebra as a 6th grader... but he wasnever bored in "non-advanced" LA at McDougle.

My mother always claimed that "truly gifted children are seldom bored--they always find a way to make the assignment difficult enough for themselves." Her exception to that rule WAS math.




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