In our school district we have an advanced program, which gives children that excel in school opportunities not afforded to other children.
Last year was the first year they did this for Kindergarten, allowing the "gifted" kids to have full day kindergarten. Ok, so I understand that these
kids should be in a different class and given an opportunity to excel. My own daughter took the test to see if she was eligible for the program
(which she missed by one point because she couldn't name what kind of snake was in the picture.) I found out that certain parents were given the
questions in advance of the test.
Anyways, my daughter ended up in half day regular kindergarten, where she is so far ahead of the other kids that I had to request that she be given
additional homework (such as they give to the advanced kids and first graders) just to keep her interested in school.
My daughters class has a 25 to 1 teacher to student ratio
The advanced program has a 5 to 1 teacher/aide to student ratio
This infuriates me, as I see a class of gifted students with 5 aides, yet my daughters class which is larger, has no aides to help the ones that are
Recently I we got a letter from my daughters teacher saying that she recommended my daughter for the advanced program in 1st grade. So for the third
time, I went to a meeting where parents of those children being considered for the first grade advanced program were told what to expect if the child
was accepted. This meeting included the parents of those children already in the advanced K program.
At this meeting, it was explained to us the purpose and importance of the advanced school program for these children. Here is what I learned.
1. The advanced program is given grants from the state that nearly matches what is given to the entire school program.
2. They are given "donations" from various groups and people, in order to give these children more opportunities to excel. (my question is, why
don't the other kids have an opportunity to excel)
3. The structure within the classroom is structured toward creative thinking, and each child is put into a group based on what they excel in.
4. The classrooms themselves are designed for creativity, and the ability to be creative and think outside the box. I visited the kindergarten
classroom once, and it is 3 times the size of my daughters, complete with lofts, couches, beanbag chairs, rugs, large desks for each student, and a
treehouse, plus all of the standard learning tools kids have.
My daughters classroom: standard desks, a dry erase board, and a bookshelf with a good selection of books.
5. The children in the advanced program learn Mandarin Chinese as part of the curriculum.
6. State funded college Scholarships going to Taylor toward these "advanced" children in the future and the probability that these kids are afforded
certain scholarships are far higher than that of the other children.
7. The children are free to learn at there own pace and the group atmosphere is designed around each child's needs.
8. The ratio of teacher/aide is between about 5 to 1 giving the child more of an opportunity to have their education uniquely there own.
You know, I am hopeful my daughter gets into this program. I am not holding my breath however, as the children currently in the program have already
been taught things they teach children in second grade, and though we have asked repeatedly for a copy of the material given to the advanced children
(in order to both challenge our daughter, and get her up to speed in the case she does get in), we have yet to get the material. My fear is that the
children will be tested based on that material and since my daughter didn't get the opportunity to learn it, she won't know it. So we have gone to
the internet and found 1st and second grade material to teach her.
My problem here isn't my daughter though. My problem is that certain children are given far more opportunities to succeed in life than others.
It seems to me that this type of system along with the "voucher program" here in Indiana (which gives state money to "random" (more like certain
"approved" children), is going to create an atmosphere where some will succeed, while others are being setup for failure.
Ok, I get it, school systems are strapped for money, but why give so much money to help the "advanced" children, but the other children are not given
the same opportunity to have their education designed to help them excel too?
Why have a staff to student ratio of 5 to 1 for the gifted students, but for those that aren't "gifted" have a 25 (or more) to 1 classroom, which is
structured the same tor all children, no matter what you need. And for those that struggle in class, they are sent away to another classroom with a
"special education" teacher to help them in there struggles.
Here is the problem with doing it this way, I was in special education growing up. My needs were very minor, and to be honest had to do a lot with
the school structure in general. I am a doer and thinker, I get bored easily with repetition. I had a hard time reading outloud (though can read to
myself with no problem). because of this, they seemed to think I needed special help with tests and things. There was a time, early in my education
where I was a little behind the other kids. I eventually caught up to the others (and in some cases surpassed them). But the problem was that I had
the "special education" stigma put on me until I graduated. Throughout much of middle school and high school, I never took a "special" class, and
excelled in my studies, but every teacher knew that I was in special education earlier in life. I was labeled, and even though I never took a single
special ed class, nor even used the resources, I had to have yearly meetings with the special education teacher (whom I didn't even know) and my
parents to keep up with my progress.
This stigma I was given though out my general educational existence, did have a mental effect on me. I thought low of myself. I was shy, and didn't
try to make many friends in school (I had several acquaintance and a couple good friends though), in fear that They would think I was stupid.
All of this could have been avoided, had the school system had a program that was designed similar to that of the advanced program. I didn't need
special ed, I needed help in understanding "why" things worked a certain way (I've always been a thinker). maybe had they allowed me to be creative
and learn my way, I would have picked it up faster.
Today, I own a tech business, and taught myself everything I know. Most of which you can't even learn in college.
I learned my way, not theirs. I now succeed because I designed my own education for me.
I honestly believe that this type of way of doing things is helping to teach our students (specifically those in the advanced program) that only a few
are afforded certain privileged and rights.
The rules are "bent" or "designed" for them, while the rest get stuck with a systematic program designed for mediocrity or even failure.
it in my opinion that this is teaching these kids early what "class" you are in, and what opportunities that status is afforded to you.
Sorry so long, I wanted people to see how things where I see things going from my own experience.
edit on 23-3-2012 by tw0330 because: (no