Monday, July 14, 2014

Center for Talented Youth observations

Over the weekend, my husband and I dropped off our daughter at Johns Hopkins College Center for Talented Youth Program (CTY). This program was one that I discovered when trying to meet her needs in school where she has been perpetually bored. (Our rural school district does not provide much in the way for services for bright students in grades K-8. I know my district says it differentiates the instruction and meets the needs of all students- that is bull. Differentiation down happens- it is mandated; there are staff and funds to do it. Differentiation up only happens when parents firmly advocate for supports and the teacher has the time and support (from our one district enrichment coordinator) to increase the rigor of the work. )

In order to access the CTY program, students between the ages of 12 and 15 take the SAT. If they score high enough, they earn access. She took the test, scored well, and we enrolled her in the program. Hopefully it will be as exciting as anticipated. We brought her to Baltimore. I was amazed as I looked around. The demographics were unusual. Our district is over 97% white. I know this is not representative of the US and enjoy exposing my children to people from other backgrounds. At CTY it looked like about 50% or more were Asian Americans. This intrigued me. Asians make up only about 5% of the American population. Why are they so heavily represented at this program? Giftedness is not racially determined or inclined. CTY has scholarships to increase attendance by African Americans and Native Americans as well as students with economic limitations. Is the educational focus of Asian cultures so much stronger than other ethic groups? Are some communities better at disseminating information than others?

Obviously I think our gifted kids need special educational attention and programs. I do not think any single program such as differentiation meets the needs of all kids. As far as our nation goes, we need to address our economic future by stimulating and advancing our best students to be the leaders of the future. By allowing limited information distribution and overrepresentation by particular groups, we are neglecting to properly educating other groups. I know that CCSS is supposed to increase opportunities for all. I am afraid that it simultaneously limits opportunities for some.

What are we doing to meet the needs of our kids so that the faces in our gifted programs look like the mix of faces across our country? It is not unfair to offer advancement opportunities to these bright kids, it is unfair not to.

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