Stephen J. Schroeder-Davis: Federal rules leave gifted kids behind

  • Updated: October 22, 2009 - 10:17 AM

By teaching to the middle, we fail to help top learners achieve their potential.

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njoylife303Oct. 21, 09 8:19 PM

I do not disagree with the ideas stated by Mr. Schroeder-Davis in this article. He is accurate in his representation of what happens to those kids who are above grade level and think in a different way. I'm wondering where this will all end? Our schools are already stretched so thin that they are struggling to meet the needs and demands of kids, families, and legislation. There has to be a point where we all take responsibility for the education of our own children also. If our child is struggling, we work with them more or find tutors and/or programs outside of school to help them get caught up. If our child need acceleration, we lok for programs, tutoring, and classes outside of school to supplement their needs also. Schools can and do differentiate for kids of all abilities. There should be a limit, though, for what we expect and we should all be willing to do our part outside of school hours to support our children and schools.

Redstar123Oct. 21, 09 9:47 PM

The author makes very valid points. In my day, if a student was struggling to keep up, the school would hold them back a grade to allow them more time to mature, rather than forcing him to keep up with the other students. Likewise, gifted students were often promoted to higher-level classes, or even promoted to the next grade, in order to keep them stimulated and challenged. Perhaps a return to the old system would benefit both gifted and struggling students, rather than trying to funnel them all through the system as the same pace.

swhansberryOct. 22, 09 6:25 AM

Every system is zero sum. What economics class did Mr. S-D miss? It is impossible to cater to every need. Mr. S-D also ignores the responsibility of entities outside the educational system to support students and their potential. My gifted daughter prospered because of what I did, and my community did, and not because of anything her school system did. Mr. S-D does not recognize the power of outsiders because most educators do not believe outsiders exist. Wake up, Mr. Curriculum man; there are forces on students that are way beyond your control, and they usually have far more impact on students than your woefully inadequate system. My daughter's wild success has everything to do with the way she was raised, and very little to do with you and your cronies. I am surprised you had the time to write; don't you have a football game to go to, or some candy sales program to supervise, or some trumped up safety drill to participate in?

swhansberryOct. 22, 09 6:34 AM

The author is identified as a "curriculum specialist" with the Elk River School District. However, he is not listed on the directory of "curriculum specialists" on the ERSD web site. Hmmmmm. See

elind56Oct. 22, 09 6:54 AM

If we help top learners achieve what they're capable of, they would have strong potential as adults to earn much more than others which could increase the income gap. In the old days, "equal opportunity" was all the rage but when we found out that some were more ambitious/gifted/intelligent than others, we had to start focusing on "equal outcome". If that means dumbing down the smart ones and subsidizing the dumb ones, so be it. Just because some are brighter and more motivated than others doesn't mean they should live better.

spicebearOct. 22, 09 6:58 AM

About our legacy public school system and you will start to see why it is so expensive to run and produces such pedestrian results... Why do we march kids through grade levels regardless of ability/achievement? Why brilliant, knowledgable people who want to teach denied employment unless they go back to school to take low-level "licensing" courses? Why are we asking schools to be social service agencies? Why do we have layers upon layers of administration? Why, in the digital communication age, do we need school districts at all? The public school system I see is the legacy of the industrial/agricultural age with it's roots in the late 1800s. It is time to re-think & re-build for the coming age!!

hoda0010Oct. 22, 09 7:58 AM

So after reading this article I am under the impression that none of the students are separated in any classes based on reading or math levels. I know when I was in elementary school when it was time for math or reading classes everyday we all split off from our regular teachers and classrooms and were put in groups based on our current ability in these subjects. This way the gifted kids were all together and taught at a higher level. Do they really not do this anymore? I would have been tremendously bored had they not split us up. Maybe the guy that wrote this article should look into something like that. I really thought it was pretty standard practice to do this, and maybe its not so much an issue with NCLB as it is with this particular school district (I really don't like NCLB, but blaming this situation on it doesn't seem appropriate in this case when there are other options for teaching gifted students).

jimmybobbyOct. 22, 09 8:59 AM

Even though you are being sarcastic, I think you hit the nail on the head. Moreveor, the smart/gifted kids are easy - they know the stuff so the teacher doesn't need to worry about them. They'll do fine on the test. Unless they are being disruptive because they are bored with not learning much, they get largely ignored. These kids are the future leaders, future innovators and researchers, future creators of businesses and products in this country. Sorry but the dumb kids are probably not going to be the drivers of US growth in the future (yes some of themm will, but just playing the odds here)..... So it doesn't strike me as wise to cheat out best and brightest out of reaching their potential. We all benefit when they do.

DrMarkOct. 22, 09 9:07 AM

They have been practicing dumbing down for well beyond the Bush years. This practice has been since the early 90's minimum.

ovenman1992Oct. 22, 0910:54 AM

It is nearly impossible to have your child skip a grade in public schools. It would be great if that were still possible, but it really hasn't been done since the 70's or early 80's. Those of us who are parents of talented and gifted students are left largely on our own to nurture the development of our children's academic blessings...which is fine with me. While I do all the work, I also get the satisfaction of knowing I have contributed a fine citizen and honorable young man to our society!


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