Many, many, years ago when my kids were in elementary school they were all individually and at different times tested and admitted into Program Challenge. Program Challenge was for what they deemed “gifted” children. They would become bored in a “regular” class and during some parts of the day or for certain subjects they would be sent to different teachers and or classes to have their little minds challenged so that they didn’t get bored and quit learning.
I’m not exactly sure how they deemed so early in some kids that they were already a cut above the rest of the class since some of them were labeled “gifted” in Kindergarten and first grade. All three of ours were in Program Challenge by the end of first grade. I remember one of my kids teachers telling me “She doesn’t want to know what clouds are made of or why they are fluffy, she wants to know what they look like on top!”
I didn’t find that curiosity very unusual because my kids were always quite curious and even at a young age they were reading all the time (as soon as they were able) and even before they could read when I read to them they knew pretty much by the second time I read them a story if I was trying to hurry and get to the end by skipping over parts. In fact, I think that #2 read Gone With the Wind in like 3rd or 4th grade…cover to cover… in like a week! And her 4th (or maybe it was 5th) grade math teacher (who was supposed to be challenging her) called me in for a conference and told me she was driving her crazy when she was trying to teach her to divide fractions because she told the teacher that the way she was doing it made no sense and she wanted to know WHY it was supposed to be done that way. Finally out of frustration the teacher told her “It just is! Just do it and stop asking me questions!” I thought that was how they were supposed to learn by asking questions.
Anyway, by the time they got to middle school it got to be quite difficult in their reading area to find books that were age appropriate but still on their reading level. I never found it fair myself that because they could read and comprehend at a higher level that they had to achieve many more “points” in order to get the same grade as some of their class mates. It actually turned #3 against reading completely for a while because it became such a chore for her to find a book with enough points for her to be able to finish in time to achieve the same grade as her classmates reading much lower level books. She would pick up a book and immediately flip it over to check the level to see if it was high enough on the scale. Never mind whether it sounded appealing. I felt it kind of defeated the purpose of having a love of learning when they made it such a chore.
When they got to high school they had AP classes and gifted classes but by the time the older two were mid high school the school board decided to completely revamp the way they dealt with it and it morphed into the “honors program”. It originally (I may have some of the stats a little off because it’s been many years but it’s close) was that they could only have about 15 – 18 kids per gifted class and they kids had to score in the 90th percentile to take the class and it pretty much had to be across the board (in all their classes).
When they changed it to “honors program” they for lack of a better phrase and in my humble opinion “dumbed it down”. Now they only had to excel in one discipline, they only had to score in the 75th percentile and they upped the class size to between 22 – 25. Ummmnnnnn, that’s a good change? I was livid. I don’t want to seem like a snob or anything but I had been happy with way things had been but I guess as the kids got older too many kids got into other things and were dropping out of the gifted program like flies so in order to keep the numbers up and I suppose keep the extra state funding they went for the revamp.
I was I suppose very vocal in my opposition of this new program and made it a point to be at the board of education meetings and I’m not exactly sure how it happened but the next thing I knew I was the president of the Program Challenge Parent support group for our whole county and had to lead the meetings at the monthly meeting held at the school board and somehow found myself in direct opposition to the leader of the new Honors Program and when it was put to a vote before the school board I had to give a “speech” to the entire school board and all in attendance on why I felt they should keep the program the way it was.
I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up and was even quoted in the newspaper the next day because of my opposing views and let’s just say that the lady who headed up the Honors Program really did not like me after that. I think I had a huge target painted on the back of my head and she took every shot she could at it. You know those people who smile at you but you know underneath that smile they are hiding a poison dagger to get you with when you are least expecting? Yeah, she wore one of those smiles every time I saw her after that. I’m sure she sighed a HUGE sigh of relief when we no longer had kids in the school system.
I still smiled sweetly at her every time I saw her afterwards and was as nice as I could be. After all don’t they say to keep your friends close but your enemies closer? I tried to keep her very close.
This post was brought to you by Mama Kat’s Almost World Famous Writer’s Workshop and prompt #3.) Speech!! Tell about a time you had to speak or present in front of a group of people.