Sunday, July 26, 2009

A harbinger of things to come, maybe... colleges and universities across the nation...

A record number of Houston ISD students are now classified as “gifted and talented” — an increase spurred by changes in how the school district tests and enrolls children in so-called Vanguard programs.
Some parents said this recent round of changes has watered down the Vanguard program. The district's brightest children are opting for private school because they aren't given seats in HISD's top programs or they don't find the classes rigorous enough.
In this era of standardized testing, many school districts have struggled to serve gifted children, Courtright said.
“Most teachers have given up some of their most creative activities and learning experiences because they're focused on doing the drills to prepare students for the test,” Courtright said. “They know what they would like to do, but they can't take the risk of the children not performing well on the test.”
Wouldn't they call this sort of thing "creative accounting" if it was done with money instead of kids? Hell, maybe even "Enron-style accounting" if the company in question failed big enough. I wonder if this is how they're going to try to get more kids in college too. It wouldn't surprise me in the least -- but a worthy question, again, is how many of those kids would be better off learning a trade. That may be where their true talents lie, and with programs that work like this those talents won't be nurtured and who knows what's going to happen? It'll be interesting to see what the college dropout rate looks like as the education changes get rolling on the state and federal level.

(Full disclosure time: I am by no means saying trade schools are for dummies -- far from it. Hell, you can look at some of the skills required for welders, plumbers, pipefitters and the like and it's quite obvious they all require a great modicum of intelligence and common sense. And you know what else? I have a college degree and with some of the salaries some of these trades pay I wish I had gone the trade school route because what I do doesn't pay shit. And if you'll remember, reader K.D. had this to say just yesterday:
"Those of us in the 'trenches' encourage our kids to get training after high school and many times, I suggest schools such as the electrical lineman school or the truck driving school at LIT. These kids now make more than I do, and I hold a master's."
That pretty much speaks for itself. Now, back to your regularly scheduled rant...)

And as far as the Houston program is concerned it would be fun to find out what college administrators who read this story will be thinking when they come upon an app from a student who graduated from this program....
...i.e., "This kid graduated from a gifted-and-talented program that administrators changed from the traditional method just to get more people in it to eliminate certain discrepancies whose only relevance was sociopolitical, not necessarily just because that traditional method wasn't working. They eliminated preferential admission for top-scoring gifted students, and we have parents here transferring their kids out of the program because they didn't feel the classes were demanding enough anymore after those changes were made."
I hate to call it "affirmative action," because that says something blatantly unfair and untrue about the kids who didn't make it in before. But this sort of thing just reeks of affirmative action's very worst stereotype. I could be way the hell off base, but it just doesn't seem to me that they're doing the GT program or the kids any favors. Again, I don't mean to say the kids that didn't make it in before the changes were made were stupid. They're just likely smart in ways the traditional GT curriculum wasn't meant to nurture, and there's not a thing wrong with that. I don't understand why Houston ISD administrators couldn't have found a better way to serve those kids.