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Out of Our Minds
Sunday, November 21, 2004 11:32 AM
A National Scandal?
Anita Sharpe on Culture

The movie, The Incredibles, is not only a huge box-office hit, it's also reigniting the debate on how society should treat gifted kids: does 'No Child Left Behind' really mean, 'No Child Should Get Too Far Ahead?'

Today's New York Times editorial page quotes part of a critical study by the John Templeton Foundation on the frustration of many gifted kids in public schools: 'When they want to fly, they are told to stay in their seats. Stay in your grade. Know your place. It's a national scandal.'

The Incredibles director Brad Bird seems to come down on the same side: 'Life hurts your feelings. I think people whine about stuff too much. C'mon, man, just get up and do it,' he tells the Times.

Whatever you may think about educating kids, few people would argue that movie-goers will flock to films about ordinary, mediocre, uninspiring people doing regular stuff in a passable way.

1 comment

Dave - 11/21/2004 8:42:02 PM
My only quibble is you talking about 'No Child Left Behind', as though this is something relatively new. Let me explain.

I'm the step-father of two gifted children, now grown. I also worked 13+ years in a high school, where, through many large windows looking out upon two computer classroms and a computer lab (I was the mainframe operator and programmer) I could watch firsthand what public high school education was like from 1984-1997.

That was in the second largest school district in my rustbelt state. Add to that that I attended an urban public school in the 1970s, and I feel I have some basis in which to comment.

There are some major problems with our public school systems.

I could talk about the unions that protect the seniority rights of some, well, lazy and behind-the-curve teacchers. I could speak about the parents - or lack thereof. (Not all of which is the parents fault - single mothers have to put food on the table somehow.... but tell me, how is it that only the students who try have parents that show up for parennt-teacher conferences?)

I could talk about the BOOMING busineess of - special education. About principals who care more about moving up the district (corporate?) ladder more than getting to know the kids.

But they all end up meaning the same thing: the 'American education experience' since World War II has many pros and cons. And one of those negatives? It hampers the growth of the brightest.

This is not anything new. This has less to do with 'No Child Left Behind' than it does with the NEA. Hell, when you really think about it - the only kids who 'get to fly' are those with affluent parents who can afford to send them to private schools.

Does this mean vouchers is the right way to go? I have no clue. But I do know this - when we talk about children and education, we're talking about our FUTURE.


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