Actually special education is carefully tracked so as not to funnel people into special education and diminish their chances of success. There's a whole federal network built around it with reporting agencies, lawyers, and such.

And gifted programs CAN be elitist. They don't have to be but they can be. No need to go into all the examples, but in some places they are not recognizing minorities, children from impoverished backgrounds, etc. Two tiers of education is not OK and as a country, we are constantly trying to balance and reimagine the role of education. Is it about being fair to all and offering all the SAME opportunity? Is it about growing talent to move the country forward? It's not a simple subject and fraught with politics and policy.

And on the subject of athletics, the public school system generally is not growing elite athletes. Most of that comes from private opportunities that may allow you entrance to an elite public school team (high school and college), but if you want to grow a hockey player, a swimmer, pretty much any sport, you have to private pay. The government does not have a program to search for athletic talent and grow it.