by John Hawkins | March 6, 2008 3:59 pm
Via Newsbusters comes this story from Denver,
More minority and poor students in Denver are being classified as highly gifted under a new system that gives extra credit to children who are economically disadvantaged or nonnative English speakers.
Denver Public Schools is trying to fix a disparity in the program that serves its smartest and most talented students — which up until now has drawn mostly white students in a district that is mostly Latino.
“It’s a much more holistic look at the kid,” said Diana Howard, principal at Polaris at Ebert, the district’s sole elementary school for the highly gifted and talented. “I wanted this system to look at much more than test scores. This is going to have a huge impact.”
…To make things more equitable, the district now relies on a sum of measures to determine eligibility into the highly gifted program — cognitive tests, annual assessments, reading tests and teacher nominations. Next year, the district will consider artwork and writings.
Also, students get extra points toward entry into the program if English is their second language or if they receive federal meal benefits — a measure of poverty.
For example, a student who scores as low as the 75th percentile on cognitive tests could be considered, Howard said. Previously, that child would not have been admitted.
“We want to find the gifts that these children have, not exclude them,” she said.
This program is going to have a “huge impact” all right. The really gifted kids are going to be held back because the teachers will have to slow down the pace to try to keep the slower kids from falling way behind. On the other hand, is it really smart to put kids who aren’t as gifted in a situation where they’re over their heads? You’ve got to wonder how many “A” students in regular classes will end up flunking gifted classes because they’re just not ready for them at that point in their lives.
Oh, but they’re kids and it’s not their fault that English isn’t their first language or that they’re poor, so we got to make things “equal.” True, it’s not their fault. But, it’s not the fault of the smarter kids either. Why should their classes be dumbed and slowed down?
I’ll tell you why: because liberals look at equality in terms of outcomes. If there aren’t X number of minority and poor students in a gifted class, it must not be equal.
However, that’s a grotesque way to look at equality. Equality should be about equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. None of us are born with the same abilities, inclinations, or environments and what that means is that life doesn’t always break down into the neat little statistical categories that bureaucrats love so much — nor should it.
There are going to be unequal outcomes in life, partially because of luck and backgrounds, but mostly because people have differing work ethics, levels of talent, and skill sets. Trying to make the RESULTS the same for everyone just makes us more mediocre as a society.
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