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    Joined: Apr 2013
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    That was then.
    - Local control of schools via elected school boards.
    - Schools perceived they were serving their local population.
    - Organized parent groups had influence via providing fundraising, volunteer hours.
    - Individual parents had influence via endowment of foundations, scholarships, programs.

    This is now.
    - Local school boards may listen to the school board associations rather than to local parents.
    - Schools perceive they are serving the higher levels of government and vying for greater shares of our tax dollars; National school ranking systems have changed evaluation criteria to closing the achievement gap and closing the excellence gap.
    - Extensive student databases reveal demographics including ethnicity and SES of students along with student performance.
    - FERPA has been reinterpreted to provide broad access to student data; Student data is collected from birth through college and into the workforce; It is a longitudinal study. For those interested in further information, here are a few possible resources to explore: The Dawning Database: Does the Common Core Lead to National Data Collection?, infographic here. The U.S. Department of Education's factsheet on "Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems", dated July 2009, and available online at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html, may also be of interest. (also archived on the WayBack Machine - https://web.archive.org/web/20210809095250/https://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html )
    - How well a student does in school is considered to be reflective of how well served the student was in the public school system, as determined by demographic statistic.
    - Meanwhile parents of gifted students, as a whole, do not attest to their children being well-served with appropriate challenge in curriculum and pacing; rather parents tend to share stories in which gifted students, required to continuously review material learned years ago (so they do not advance and maintain a persistent achievement gap), develop poor coping mechanisms such as hiding their gifts/talents, underachievement, anxiety, perfectionism, fixed mindset, dropping out... to which the public school system has largely responded by pathologizing the gifted as a whole.

    The antidote?
    - Remembering that students are individuals, not demographic statistics.
    - The aim of "schooling" should be a personally meaningful education for individuals, not the contrivance of statistics.

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    Originally Posted by Wren
    In NYC, it is bottom up. Parents do amazing fundraising. Now that we are in Toronto, in a similar gifted/gen ed combo school, I felt like she was in private school in NYC.

    But there was $700 raised per student each year, plus grants to add a computer room, or redo the library.

    The money paid for Spanish teacher, a really good music room and teacher, chess teacher, technology, computer teacher. But if you don't have organized parents, it doesn't happen.

    In the interests of closing achievement gap, our school district specifically forbid using fundraising to hire additional teachers. And the county board of education is considered a stepping stone to a more important political position. It is very hard to change anything in a big school district like ours.

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    IMHO, it's not possible. I've been at it for over 20 years. When I was in high school, our district had some serious issues (in addition to the issues that most public schools today face). I happened to be a student leader at the time who was particularly invested in the particular issue of the moment. I had endless meetings with parents, administrators, students. Nothing progressed ever. I remember thinking at the time that the reason that there was no progress was that I was just a kid and I just didn't have the experience and maturity to move things along.

    After I graduated from college, I began working in public schools. I found myself still motivated to work on "making change" in public schools. Endless meetings, promises, organizing. Nothing. Eventually I left public schools for private schools and hospital work.

    Recently I found myself back working "with" public schools for change, as my son's advocate. I can tell you that nothing has changed in over 20 years. My opinion: the individual systems found in public schools are too large and political, the quality of teachers has plummeted (this is probably the biggest problem), the legislation over the past 20 years has been stifling and, with regard to gifted ed, the continuing anti-intellectualism all work together to produce the mess that exists. I think that there are tiny little pockets of effective schools and teachers out there. But they are extremely rare.

    I think the situation is hopeless, which I find to be sad.

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    Sorry, but the biggest educational changes are coming from outside the public/private schools. How many former teachers or those formerly associated with public/private education are un/homeschooling today?

    I briefly taught at public high school about 15 yrs ago. I left because the institution/administration/public policy makers do not allow change from within. They were hostile to it. It was all teaching to the test and no differentiation whatsoever.

    As a parent of a 2e kid, I didn't find the situation terribly different with two gifted schools either, unfortunately. Sad really.

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    If I really knew the answer to this, I feel like I'd be making a lot more money. wink

    However, I think you have to start with education. Administrators, teachers, specialists, EVERYONE needs to learn the basics for gifted education, including...
    - How to recognize giftedness - with the understanding that all gifted kids are different, and some may not be easy to recognize.
    - Understand the statistics on giftedness, with respect to level of giftedness. (This has to be spelled out, as in "Statistically speaking, you will probably only see ____ highly gifted kids in a 20 year career.")
    - The challenges gifted kids face in the classroom. I think it helps to present this information with case studies to showcase the range of issues students face and how this may present in different ways (including 2E kids).
    - Various effective methods for helping gifted kids in the system - subject or grade acceleration, in-class differentiation, cluster grouping, etc. This should be presented with successful and unsuccessful case studies to help schools understand the complexities of each method. Also present various effective methods of differentiation so teachers can choose methods that will work best for both themselves and their students.
    - The idea that each student deserves to make roughly one year of progress in each subject every year!

    How do you spread these ideas? I'd like to think that undergraduate and graduate education programs would step up, but even if they did, current faculty need to be given this information too. One idea I'd suggest is contacting professionals that deal with giftedness and see if they would be willing to provide some in school professional development for the faculty (make it really easy for the teachers to attend). Realize that you might have to raise money for this, but most states require quite a bit of PD (our state requires 60 hrs/year!), so teachers are often very happy for the help in meeting this requirement.

    Honestly, it's a big shift in thinking & will probably take a long time. I'm not sure that such a big change can occur before our children are out of the system. Wish I had a magic answer! But if I did, I can assure you that you'd already know it, because I'd be shouting it from every mountaintop I could find!


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    I don't think we're wise to lump all public schools into one unchangeable sum. Each school is different because it has different staff. I think in some public schools change can be made, however, the majority of the time one is going to be disappointed if they think that they can affect major change in time for their own child to reap the benefits. It's a long process and you'd best be dedicated to the effort for the long haul.

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    Yes-- the advocacy that I do with my daughter's school falls into one of two categories:

    1. stopgap measures that maintain "least worst" for her, and make things tolerable-- it's all just putting out one fire after another though, and


    2. patient, long-term education and persuasion. I have lost any illusions I might have once held that this will ever matter to my own child while she is IN school, however.


    On point two, I hold on to one point of pride and one only: in a system of 40K+ kids, it is now routine to evaluate students like my DD for eligibility under section 504. We did that. It took five years, and a lot of occasionally tense phone conferences while I led them using resources from all over, LOADS of time writing and documenting and wordsmithing communications, but they are light years ahead of where they were nine years ago. They are also seeing (nationally) why it is better for THEM, as well-- and I call that a win.

    Would that I'd had such success on the GT front. Sadly, no. The stonewalling there is that my DD is too unusual to be a test case of anything, and that most of her needs are out of bounds even for highly capable/high potential students. I tried. {shrug}


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    The alternative is to own the system.

    At a minimum, you will need to be a principal or have a majority of the school board, of which you are preferably the president, on your side.

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    I know a woman, a bit of a legend around these parts, who's been actively advocating for GT education for decades -- to the point of bringing a lawsuit against the district for not following state law in terms of gifted education (the district lost, but is still out of compliance -- over a decade later).

    She started advocating when her children were grade school students within the scope of their school... her grandchildren are completing their schooling and she's still advocating, now at the state level. There has been positive change due to her advocacy, but not nearly enough compared to the massive effort she has put into it (in my opinion).

    It first came to me back when we were trying to get DD (then 7) a grade skip. The principal was in favor (or so she said) but the district pushed back sharply against it. They did offer that she would be designated as TAG though.

    "Do you have a pull-out program?" I asked the principal.

    "No, but you could volunteer to run one!" She sounded like she was granting me a big favor and I suddenly realized that, from the school's point of view, DH and I were going to be solely responsible for our DDs education. That if we didn't get her what she needed ourselves, it wasn't going to happen.

    In a way, I'm glad we had this rude awakening early, because it allowed us to be more aggressive in getting her what she needed and not waiting for change to happen. Otherwise she might be languishing in public 5th grade, bored and underachieving at school and stressed and acting out at home, while we endlessly attempted to work with the school trying to get any kind of accommodation.

    I do still advocate on the state level, providing written testimony on the importance of GT education, making calls to education committee members, and passing along relevant research when education funding bills are discussed. But I'm not doing it for DD, I'm doing it for all the other kids.

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    Originally Posted by JonLaw
    The alternative is to own the system.

    BTW, we have several "boutique schools" here in town that I know of, started by parents as unaccredited private schools specifically to serve the needs of their own kids (and open to other children with similar profiles). For these parents, creating a system that they own must have seemed like the best available solution.

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