Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, a reader forwarded me a census of sorts listing the number of certified gifted students in each of Polk County’s schools from last year. (Yeah, no one’s reading any of this.)
You can see the document for yourself (pdf). It’s what you would expect. Among elementary schools, Lincoln was the champ, with 86. South McKeel had 68. And the smaller McKeel Elementary Academy had 25, which is comparatively modest. That makes for some interesting intra-McKeel action because Academy generally outperforms South. (I haven’t bothered to do a specific gifted/overall enrollment ratio. You get the point.)
Just for giggles, check out how many “gifted” kids Alturas Elementary had: 5. F.I.V.E. And if you’ve been reading any of this over the last month or so, you’ll know that Alturas is one the schools that has revealed itself as a strong overachiever even within our corrupt and stupid FCAT scoreboard system.
All of this leads me to ask: does a school make a kid “gifted?” How many of those “gifted” doctors’ kids at Lincoln or “gifted” developers’ kids at South McKeel achieved that label because of the quality of the instruction they received? And how many parents directed their angels to the guidance counselor’s office the instant they walked in the door in kindergarten-or whenever their stay-at-moms gamed the system to get in. Little Brittany is just so advanced for her age. You should see the Third Grade science projects she’s doing at home, and she’s only in First Grade. I only help a little.
And what does it say that those schools, like all the fancy schools except Lakeland Montessori (usual disclosure: my son goes there), significantly underachieve when free and reduced lunch population is calculated?
How is it that with all your student body wealth and giftedness and selectivity, fancy school faculties, that the teachers at Alturas hand your ass to you every day? How is it you can’t climb up to Polk’s median achievement line? How is it you have the shameless gall to want to expand to other communities. How is it you can’t tell your principals and board members to shut up in The Ledger about what and who is “broken” and what and who has a problem? And how is it you let those same principals and board members very bravely run away when I’m calling them out and attacking your professional reputations.
I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. But that’s just me.
Ah well, maybe there’s only one way to settle this.
Chuck and I hereby challenge the combined faculties and staff of McKeel, Lincoln, and whomever else wants a piece, to a high stakes game of Trivia Time at “The Gym” tonight in downtown Lakeland. It starts at 8. I’m sure the McHugh Empire would thrill to a mass appearance of the McDump Empire. And fear not, there are some Family Guy and fashion questions mixed in with geography and literature and history. They’ll give you a chance to stay close.
Think it over. Otherwise, as I said last week, I’m not going anywhere. And I shall be forced to taunt you a second or third or fourth time. And I’ll keep taunting you until the conservative war on traditional school teachers, in which you have taken the wrong side, ends.
I have long thought, based on experience as a parent and kid, that school “gifted” programs are largely silly wastes of time. But the lure of that status sticker on the rear window of your Escalade is powerful, I understand. We all want our very special children to be challenged and not held back by the bland masses.