March 5, 2008, - 4:59 pm

Declining Nation: Denver Schools Re-Define “Gifted” in Response to PC Forces, Illegal Aliens

By Debbie Schlussel
When I was a kid and in private school, my teachers selected me for a “gifted and talented program” along with a few others in my class. But, soon after, the parents of kids who were not selected whined about it, and finally, my entire class was in the “gifted and talented program” to appease the whining parents.
That’s essentially what’s happened in the Denver Public Schools, with a twist. They are appeasing not just whining parents, but the “diversity” crowd and the illegal alien crowd, who can’t speak English.
Welcome to the new affirmative action, in response not just to the PC crowd, but also to ACLU lawsuits. It’s absurd:

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 determine who gets into the program, the district previously relied on oral tests that measure a student’s reasoning and IQ.
But some educators and social scientists believe those tests are biased against students learning English and poorer students who may not have had the same life experiences as their richer peers.
“They may be bright children but may not know what plaid is,” Howard said. “Or their concept may not have involved a vacation. Or they may have never been on an escalator.” [DS: Um, I didn’t belong to a country club, but I knew what one was as a kid. It’s about knowledge, not exposure to “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.”]
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.
Experts in the gifted field say DPS’s change follows a national trend.
“Standardized tests are tipped against children from underserved populations and children from diverse backgrounds,” said Nancy Green, executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children. “We have got to find other ways besides verbal tests to determine whether kids are gifted.”
The American Civil Liberties Union in California last year threatened to sue the Tustin Unified School District over low numbers of Latinos and African-Americans in the district’s gifted programs.
Districts from Miami to New York are giving more credit to smart children from culturally diverse or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, said Joshua Wyner, executive vice president of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
“If what we are trying to do is measure not accomplishment but giftedness and talent, then putting your thumb on the scale or adding points for kids from low-income backgrounds re-equalizes things,” he said. “The question is how heavy should that thumb be?” [DS: New BS word for the PC dictionary: “re-equalize”]
Wyner said weighting the system carries political risks.
“If there are a limited number of slots in those programs, then the wealthier student who is excluded will always feel wrongly excluded if their test scores were higher than a lower-income student or Hispanic student who was included,” he said.

The Dumbing Down of America continues.

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14 Responses

“Or their concept may not have involved a vacation”
I demand remedial English for public school administrators! on March 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Hey Deb, I was placed in the G&T English class in 9th, didn’t know why, probably because I was good at figuring what words meant. I remember this test they gave me in 4th or 5th grade. It had to do with reading words and then telling the teacher what the word meant (I was good at guessing).
This was back in 1979, before parents started complaing about their kids being excluded from G&T, most of my friends didn’t want to be in the G&T English class, because we received more homework. I had fun in that class though, rad “Watership Down” and actually liked the story. Go figure. I think this was about the time I turned into a big fan of fiction and especially science fiction.

chavez011 on March 5, 2008 at 7:34 pm

I’ll say it yet agian:
Boy am I glad I graduated high school back in 2001.

Squirrel3D on March 5, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Sigh-this is just insane. If everyone is labled gifted, the word no longer has any meaning. How much longer until the whole school is gifted?

mindy1 on March 5, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Debbie, I was invited to G/T in the 9th grade, and at the orientation meeting I looked at all the other kids and saw it was no big honor. Now I live in a place where social climbing public school parents hire independent testers to certify their 4 year olds are talented and enroll them in G/T kindegartens. You can imagine what a farce that is, and who gets in. If the schools want to dumb it down, it’s unlikey any truly gifted kids would be displaced.

Anonymous1 on March 5, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I don’t blame many public school parents for wanting to get their kids out of general public school programs (which are dumbed down failures) as they expect more from their kids than what regular public school provides.

JasonBourne81 on March 5, 2008 at 10:44 pm

The Long March Through The Institutions triumphs again.

OldSchoolW on March 5, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Salvation of the sinking ones is the business of their own hands.
Parents of talented students and the students themselves must be self-sufficient and independent.
To beg this school system for help is a shame – it itself needs help; it is sick all through.

AppleCider123 on March 6, 2008 at 6:02 am

Marxism by another name.

Red Ryder on March 6, 2008 at 9:17 am

The most gifted students will be the most neglected and BORED students. But who needs them anyway?

poetcomic1 on March 6, 2008 at 10:13 am

Huh? Huh? huh? If the point is to make all students feel special, then why not dump the stupid program and return to the regular old education system anyway. Instead of no one being labelled special, let everyone just be a normal student.

jeff on March 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

Been going on in LA Unified for at least twenty years. My stepdaughter graduated ten or so years ago and a ton of Blacks got graduated with honors. I was impressed until my stepdaughter and her friends scoffed at the “contest of the dumb.” She said she didn’t think more than two or three of them had a prayer of being accepted into a “real” college. But it’s what happens to the rewarding of the not so smart that stings most. I had a kid working for me who graduated from San Fernando High School with straight As. He expected to go directly to Stanford or Ivy. Oh yeah? He couldn’t pass any tests at all; his SAT was barely above 700 and the college boards were a mystery novel. He went to JC but his disappointment was serious. Good side is that he was realistic enough and tenacious enough to know he could get good enough grades in JC to be accepted in a lot of “good schools,” but the elites wouldn’t take a JC transfer.

Howard on March 6, 2008 at 11:10 am

My son is a DPS student with an IQ above 140. He attended Dr. Howards school. We found it to be rather idealistic and “stepford” in nature. They couldn’t keep him engaged educationally because their were too many kids in the classes for the teachers to keep busy. It was ridiculous. To label more kids “gifted” is to do a huge disservice to those who actually are! Yes, I know all kids are special but do not lump them all together! The intellectually gifted should be separated from the artistically gifted and so on. That’s why there is is the Denver School for the Arts and places like that. All of this PC junk is a huge disservice to our children who must learn to fend in a world that is certainly not fair and to give our kids the impression that it is is sad, unfair to them and extremely ill-advised. This is just one mother’s opinion.

J. on March 16, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I don’t completely know where all this BS is comming from. The Polaris at Ebert prgram is a shinning jewel in the DPS system and they have been trying to do even more. Both my daughters attend the school and have found it a great experience for them and a very supportive environment. Granted they are looking at opening it up to more minorities and those more economicly disadvantaged. That makes it harder for those that aren’t minorities. I saw that happen to one family. Their oldest son had been in the program and despite their younger daughter scoring quite well she was beat out of a spot. Subsequently they moved out of the state to AK and we have lost track of them.

Also many of those attending the school do come from different backgrounds and may not know what an esculator or other “common” items. when you are not exposed to them you may not know. Also traditional tests may not always show the true talents of a student.

I myself was labeled HGT growing up but wasn’t always allowed in the programs because we moved frequently due to my dad being in the military. When placed in regular classes I became quickly bored and disenchanted. This lead to poor grades and made it even harder to get int these programs. The Polaris program attempts to break this cycle for those that have the talents.

The Polaris program doesn’t teach to any of the stndardized test but continue to score exceedingly well. They beleive it what education should be.

Frank on September 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

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