We go to a great public school in a very good district where neighboring districts have yet to catch up. In fact, I deliberately moved to this district once I knew my marriage was on the rocks because I knew my kids would not thrive in the environment we owned our home in.
That's the saddest thing about urban living. You pay twice. You pay a high premium for the house you purchase and because resources are allocated in other areas (areas that benefit you and gentrification), the schools are an all too often forgotten part of the resource pie. So the schools fail and parents who can afford it, end up jumping into the charter school circus or finding private and parochial schools that meet their educational and learning environment standards. Her father and I were prepared to take these options seriously.
As we left the school, I asked her, “What do you want for breakfast?”.
“I want Cream of Wheat, a salad, and a boiled egg.” Obviously she knew what kind of fuel was necessary to get a good start to her career of standardized testing in the public school system. She was ready.
“Ok. Well we don't have Cream of Wheat but I can make granola and we can have yogurt and the other stuff you mentioned”.
Coming from a family of people with IQs well above 130, I feel the pressure to report back that my daughter made the gifted program. But what if she doesn't test well? She reads way above her reading level and can have deep adult convos so I'm confident in her mental acuity, but wonder if she is a gamer of sorts in her first round of standardized herding… My faith in the test is not strong either. Can a test uncover talents and gifts?
I sat thinking for a bit… I have three kids. What if two make it and one doesn't? Or what if one makes it and two don't? As a single mom am I well equipped to commute to two different schools? Am I equipped to parent my kids in a way that will keep them all feeling like they are equal even if a systemized test claims otherwise? Does this test really uncover talent and gifts or an ability to sit still for a couple hours? (There’s a scene from the Peanuts Movie about this. The kids were tested and Charlie Brown tested as a genius but it turns out it was really Peppermint Patti. At the last minute she filled in the test bubbles like a smiley face and their tests were swapped. Anyway, she made her test into a SMILEY FACE-a great commentary on it all…) Can a test uncover talents and gifts?
So what ways can our education system do better to ensure that children of all kinds of genius are pushed? And is the larger question: should we raise our standards (not the amount of testing or the demands on teachers) but at the root of our legislation… What are the expectations of what should be taught to create many geniuses? How might we encourage thinkers to flourish, creators to create and builders to build? What kind of system of educating youth, can we provide to ensure that in light of language barriers, socioeconomic barriers, barriers created through gender and systematic oppression, and geographical barriers; we have a vehicle to spur real innovation in the minds of all youth? It seems like we're wasting talent and opportunity the way the system currently works. Maybe I'm being too idealistic. But there needs to be a disruption in how we cultivate and recruit for talented and gifted students.
BTW: None of these images are mine... I found them on the internet.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.