Word is: Governor’s Honor Program funding restored, but program drops to four weeks

The Department of Education says that funding for the Governor’s Honors Program, the prestigious summer enrichment program offered to the state’s top high school students, has been restored for 2011, but at the reduced rate originally sought by the governor. That means the traditional six week program at Valdosta State University pares back to four weeks next year.

But at least it will happen in 2011. The Senate had stripped the 2011 funding, setting off a firestorm of protest from ex GHP attendees who testified to the program’s life-changing powers. A Facebook page to save the program has more than 3,000 members.

DOE’s Matt Cardoza said that the funding was restored in the budget that came out of conference committee, but he can’t say for sure that nothing will change in these last six hours of the General Assembly. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “I certainly hope it stays as it is because we don’t want to see this program cut.”

Cardoza was uncertain what would happen to the beloved honors program in 2012, whether it would stay at four weeks or return to its usual six weeks if the economy improves.

49 comments Add your comment

Hummon

April 29th, 2010
4:38 pm

Four weeks better than nothing . . .

but if GHP dies so that the College Football Hall of Fame can live . . .

Ole Guy

April 29th, 2010
4:59 pm

OK, this is more like it! Finally, a foolhardy legislative initiative has been reversed, no doubt by a segment of the constituency which is both “loud” in getting their point across, AND is viewed, by the esteemed legislators of Ga, as future movers and shakers.

GOOD WORK, FORMER GHP FOLKS!

MannyT

April 29th, 2010
5:02 pm

It is the expectations game of politics that turns a 33% cut and a threat of elimination into good news.

Odd, but true.

teacher 2

April 29th, 2010
5:44 pm

Anything occur today with SB 521 (Merit Pay pathway)?

Attentive Parent

April 29th, 2010
5:50 pm

I still keep in touch with GHPers from many summers ago.

Back when it was still at Wesleyan in Macon.

It sounds trite to say it’s a life altering experience but for many of us, it was.

Meeting several hundred strangers who you have a lot in common is an epiphany that gets you excited about the people you will meet in college and grad school.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Word is: Governor’s Honor Program funding restored, but program drops to four weeks http://bit.ly/cLuyPn [...]

Veteran teacher, 2

April 29th, 2010
6:33 pm

The network of GHP alumni has always been very active. I attended GHP as a student and as a teacher. Very few students who attend GHP come back without a glow in their eye and the emotion that can only come from a powerful experience. Now that the program will continue, we need to be vigilant to have GHP restored to the full six weeks as soon as practical. I think most legislators now know that we are watching and watching carefully.

Veteran teacher, 2

April 29th, 2010
6:35 pm

Attentive Parent, what year were you at Wesleyan? I was there in the summer of 1975.

Lilard

April 29th, 2010
6:46 pm

In the Summre of ‘75, we used to eat at Shaw’s. Great fish. I studied Horticulture in the GHP. Unreal, right, for a dame from old Archer High of Atlanta (not the new Archer of Gwinnett). Sometimes we had lunch at Jeneane’s on Mulberry Street. Great summer!

so

April 29th, 2010
6:47 pm

Attentive Parent

April 29th, 2010
7:03 pm

Bicentennial summer the next year.

Over 100 for several weeks in unairconditioned Wortham.

It was great later too because you knew people at many of the most famous colleges in the country and what you have in common is GHP. We would continue to get together for years and quite a few of us all ended up in the same graduate programs.

Testing makes us paranoid

April 29th, 2010
7:13 pm

I’m glad for these students that they got their program back, although abbreviated. Now wouldn’t it be nice if in the 11th hour, the National Board Supplement was restored?

Free Market Educator

April 29th, 2010
7:44 pm

Too bad. The taxpayers continue to get “Madoffed”. Since GHP is not officially a public school, how is it that this program is funded with taxpayer money? If they are so smart, why can’t they figure out a way to pay for it themselves? I was asked to go to this program years ago and turned it down. I preferred to spend the summer earning money for college instead of enduring more leftist school brainwash. Unfortunately, my friend decided to go and came back with her head full of it. The purpose of these types of programs is to keep the smart ones under the globalist thumb. If GHP has been producing leaders, it has been to the detriment of this country.
http://www.truthinaccounting.org/blog/blog.asp?ArticleSource=995

http://www.truthinaccounting.org/blog/blog.asp?ArticleSource=995

Hummon

April 29th, 2010
7:47 pm

You should have gone to GHP, FME. They might have taught you about false analogies.

Veteran teacher, 2

April 29th, 2010
8:00 pm

FME, nothing leftist about the advanced mathematics I was teaching there!

Teacher 3

April 29th, 2010
8:50 pm

I taught some pretty liberal stuff, FME, if you are so old fashioned that you oppose that 18th century liberal Adam Smith. The core value is intensive learning. As an aside, most of my co-workers were Republicans, but a few were Democrats (almost like it was a cross section of Georgians. Hmmm).
Don’t trash things you don’t know, and don’t pretend you turned it down as a principled 17 year old. You didn’t get selected, and you’re still bitter all these years later.
GHP is amazing, it truly makes a difference, costs very little in such an otherwise wasteful budget, and is open to public, private, and now homeschooled students. Not much more equitable than that.

anotheronebitesthedust

April 29th, 2010
9:07 pm

My ideas for cuts that would really take the “pork” out of the schools: cut down the number of asst. principals, remove most of the elem. and middle school counselors, remove graduation coaches…yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Bully Dawg

April 29th, 2010
9:48 pm

I am shocked and saddened by the number of teachers who opposed funding GHP. GHP not only brings together and fosters the state’s brightest students, it also involves some of the state’s best teachers. The interplay between the best and brightest of both student and teacher makes both better.

Further, the cries of “share the pain” from teachers as an excuse to oppose GHP seems a bit mean-spirited. Why would anyone (especially one who is supposed to have the best interests of students at the forefront) ever wish ill on a student program? I can see lamenting teacher pay cuts in a vacuum, but the punitive attitude of “I want to see others suffer too” is off-putting. I suspect it is a vocal and angry minority of teachers and hope it is not indicative of the majority. As for me, I support teachers AND I support GHP.

high school teacher

April 29th, 2010
10:06 pm

GHP may have been restored, but the FY2011 budget includes 600 million in education cuts. This figure means furlough days, loss of staff, and higher tuition at colleges. But the College Football Hall of Fame is coming… woo hoo…

bootney farnsworth

April 29th, 2010
10:11 pm

under the circumstances, its probably the best thing we can hope for.

the state, Sonny, the legislators and the BOR had a chance to really use this crisis to some of the major problems in education funding – and did nothing.

ScienceTeacher671

April 29th, 2010
10:57 pm

Some days I just want to leave the state and move up north or somewhere.

They can’t raise tobacco or alcohol taxes but they can cut education past the bare bone.

They don’t want to participate in the new federal health care plan, and they’ve cut our insurance coverage while raising insurance prices, then they increase hospitalization costs with new taxes on top of all that.

They claim to be in favor of smaller government and restricting government to the bare necessities, but those bare necessities apparently include halls of fame and horse parks.

The only ones stupider are those of us who voted for them.

ScienceTeacher671

April 29th, 2010
10:59 pm

Hmmph. If I’d known the filter was going to catch my post anyway, I’d have gone ahead and used the profanities I was thinking.

V for Vendetta

April 29th, 2010
11:15 pm

“I was asked to go to this program years ago and turned it down.”

Haha. Yeah right.

Free Market Educator

April 29th, 2010
11:32 pm

“Some days I just want to leave the state and move up north or somewhere.”
Sciteach, why don’t you try New York? They’re just dying for more bodies up there….
http://wcbstv.com/health/ny.organ.donor.2.1662437.html
Or how about New Jersey… they really support public education there…
http://cbs3.com/local/walkout.school.students.2.1658638.html

Free Market Educator

April 29th, 2010
11:57 pm

Teacher 3, I was there and you weren’t. I’m sticking to my true account. In fact, the only reason my friend went is because I didn’t. She was a little jealous because she had not originally been asked to go. When I told her I wasn’t interested, she got her parents to bug the teachers to let her go. I’m glad I didn’t. Life turned out just fine without it. The early days of the program did not have the formal application process they do now. If you were in the advanced track and a teacher recommended you, you were in. Also, I said leftist, not liberal. Why would you teach about Adam Smith in a program supported by Marxist/socialist principles?

Free Market Educator

April 30th, 2010
12:08 am

Vet. Teach. 2,
What advanced math courses do they offer? One of mine is gifted in math. Do they offer college level computer programming? (C.C++?) At the Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology, they offer Georgia Tech Calculus in 11th grade. Do you teach anything at this level at GHP?

Lilard

April 30th, 2010
12:52 am

S & S was great too on Riverside Drive. Our whole dorm went there one time and had a blast discussing Kierkegaard’s influence on Georgia Curriculum Standards. I never will forget those Yankee girls trying Vidalia Onions that evening! I am enjoying this trip back to FantastLand, but we will keep it real and not nasty! None of that Luther Campbell “Nasty As You Wanna Be!”

Dan Fielding

April 30th, 2010
6:25 am

I wish I had heard about this sooner. GHP ‘94 was more valuable to me than college, frankly. I hesitate to point fingers without knowing specifics, but the continuation of GHP ought to be an issue in the July primary.

catlady

April 30th, 2010
10:03 am

Gifted is the only group who does not have to be served in the regular classroom, with a push in teacher. Why?

spf15

April 30th, 2010
10:45 am

FME,
How far back was it that you turned down GHP?

I attended back in the late 70s in Math and got my first real exposure to serious computer programming (as opposed to just playing around on a TRS-80). I’m afraid I can’t comment on how intense the computer programming or advanced math are there now, but certainly back then, I found the math and computer science along the same level as I then got a year later at Ga Tech.

I can see where students attending GSMST would not find GHP as valuable as most of the attendees, though. Quite frankly, the most valuable part of it was a preview of what it would be like to be a student at an elite college campus, surrounded by other bright individuals my age. I assume GSMST is already providing that for your child.

The reduction to 4 weeks sounds about right for the level of seriousness in our current economic climate.

Old GHPer

April 30th, 2010
11:30 am

Indeed, FME, how long ago was that? I attended in 1970, and the application process was even then a rigorous series of tests and interviews. Nobody got in just because their teacher said so. Your impression of the situation as a teenager may have been mistaken is all I’m saying. It happens sometimes when we’re young.

GHP is not for everyone. But that is not a reason to insist it should be for no one. The program’s impact on this state has been profound in ways that always sound like massive amounts of BS to those who never came into contact with it. It is nonetheless true.

Veteran teacher, 2

April 30th, 2010
2:59 pm

FME, I personally taught advanced linear algebra with apllications using matrices and linear programming, and applications using music and electronics. Both of these required much mathematics that mirrored applications in Physics. Other people taught computer programming (advanced BASIC and Pascal at that time), advanced logic, and number theory. Most number theory classes are at least at the third year of a math major. Linear algebra is also part of a math major. Advanced logic frequently is. Want to sigh up????

Chiming In

April 30th, 2010
3:53 pm

Free Market Educator… if you’re railing against these social/Marxist policies, didn’t you attend a public school and receive a public education funded by the public? Your name is a paradox in itself.

Ole Guy

April 30th, 2010
5:58 pm

Bully Dawg, you could be right on your assessment of mean spiritedness, on the part of some teachers in their “share the pain” vocalizations. However, I also see an issue of ROI/Return On Investment. If a dollar goes to the GHP, X number of students benefit, whereas the same dollar, in the public ed coffer may benefit many times X. Obviously, this view gives rise to the question of efficiency…I would imagine a greater portion of that dollar, in the GHP arena, would directly impact the student.

This is just another view on a complex issue…I honestly do not believe there exists “mean-spirited” motivations in teachers’ cries of “share the pain”, but simply honest opinions expressed from one (of several) point of view.

It’s sort of like splitting a few six-packs among an odd number of “chuggers”…who gets the last brew?

Legend of Len Barker

April 30th, 2010
10:10 pm

The regular professors and students of Valdosta State will be happy to know that it’s going to be shorter in duration.

I’m not sure what kind of kickback VSU gets from GHP, but it must be nice. Because the normal students in the college are second class citizens during those weeks.

The GHP kids are generally loud and boorish. More than once, Dr. Mensing or Dr. Pearson had to stop teaching and ask the high schoolers in the hall to get quiet. The library turns into romper room.

Based on campus legends, there wasn’t much accountability with those in charge of the students as some of the kids were caught with raging hormones. In public.

This wasn’t one year of experiences, either. The kids were wild both summers I spent as a paying college student at VSU and for several years after when I’d head to the library on the weekend to do some research. When engaged in conversation with the library workers, they admitted they were more than ready for the kids to go back home.

It might be a fantastic experience if you’re a high school student. But those of us that have had to put with GHP, it’s far from it.

Legend of Len Barker

April 30th, 2010
10:12 pm

Check the filter, please.

Free Market Educator

April 30th, 2010
11:23 pm

spf 15
For privacy, I don’t do dates. However, I do know that all the students in my class that applied were accepted. I went to the “premier” school of the day; perhaps a little political clout was behind this.
I am glad you had access to advanced programming at GHP. However, if you were going to receive the same instruction at Tech, was the redundancy worth the taxpayer’s extra money? Did you receive college credit for your work?

vet teach 2
My child would love to take those courses, and he’s not in high school yet. He’s been programming in C and C++ since 6th grade: however, he might turn up his nose at BASIC andPascal. This is one reason we home school; his greatest passion, programming, isn’t offered at his level of attainment until college.

Chiming in
As a minor, I had no control over where I went to school. As an adult and a Free Market Educator, I have MORE than repaid any costs I may have incurred for taxpayers.

I have an idea, why don’t they dedicate the upcoming GHP to solving the greatest crisis facing America, OUR NATIONAL DEBT! If our best and brightest can’t change our course, then future GHP’s are a moot point.
http://www.truthinaccounting.org/blog/blog.asp?ArticleSource=995

Free Market Educator

April 30th, 2010
11:32 pm

I answered the questions, I hope it makes it out of the filter….

Free Market Educator

May 1st, 2010
12:01 am

Hmmm. Where’s that “mosque-o-gogue” when you need it? I thought GHP had solved this problem…
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/30/brandeis-students-commence-fighting-over-israeli-s/

Free Market Educator

May 1st, 2010
10:02 am

I propose that this year’s GHP students dedicate themselves to solving the current financial crisis. This is at the heart of the current school budget meltdown. Here’s an informative article to get you on your way. A tri-board illustrating the derivatives market connection to Wall Street and sub-prime loans would be a no brainer….

“Derivatives and zombie banks: the toll

Thanks to Goldman Sachs, the other Wall Street zombie banks, and their derivatives, the financial panic of 2008 has turned into a world economic depression of unimaginable proportions. The unemployed and underemployed in the US alone are surely in excess of 20 million. Five to six million home foreclosures are already done or in the pipeline, throwing tens of millions of Americans out of their homes. World trade has been seriously impacted. The budgets of California, New York, Illinois, and many other states are in crisis, with massive layoffs of teachers and other state employees. An entire generation is being destroyed. Now, Greek bonds are trading at junk levels under the attack of speculative predators including Soros, Greenlight Capital, SAC, and the protagonists of today’s hearings Paulson and Co and Goldman Sachs itself. The attack on Greece and the euro represents the leading edge of the second wave of the depression, which is now arriving in much the same way that the second wave of the 1930s depression was unleashed by the Vienna Kreditanstalt bankruptcy in May of 1931, about 79 years ago and just a year and a half into that depression.”

Read the full article at
http://www.rense.com/general90/seize.htm

Ole Guy

May 1st, 2010
6:17 pm

Barker, your experiences, in contending with GHP kids, speaks volumns on where the schools need to focus their efforts. Watered down or not, I feel that the academic rigor of high school, as evidenced by the very presence of the GHP kids, is quite sufficient to turn out educated (almost) young adults.

The big divider, then, between these kids and the ones receiving a diploma they may neither be able to read nor understand is…(drumroll)…DISCIPLINE! This, I feel, is the primary area of educational focus which all teachers, principals, and every educational support person should be on board. If the kid cannot behave appropriately in the classroom, THROW IM OUT! If the kid can’t behave in the lunch room, the lunch room supervisor (in Armyspeak, the Mess NCO) should have the authority to THROW IM OUT! The same should apply in the library, the gym…anywhere associated with school.

I’m growing just a little weary of these people who sniff “It’s the parents”. Sure, you are absolutely right, however, in the face of parental failure to…PARENT…who’s gonna pick up the slack…the cops? the courts? the penal system?

Traditionaly, the assistant principal has been the “sergeant at arms”, the administrator responsible for disciplinary measures. And, traditionaly, those responsibilities have been deligated to teachers who, in my indiscretion-ladden youth, knew exactly what to do in order to restore a learning environment. Unfortunately, the lame n’ lazy administrators, intimidated by potential parental “dirty looks” have all but ignored this traditional duty, choosing instead to saddle the teacher with additional roadblocks.

As with many of my arguements, it’s becoming a “broken record”…If, by the age of 16, the kid has a record of continued refusal to “get with the program”, THROW IM OUT!

As for the unruly behaviors of GHP kids, I can bet that with positive, no-nonesence discipline, IN THE SCHOOLS, they will shape up.

Fulton Teacher

May 2nd, 2010
12:08 am

I’m a GHP alum here. I’ve also helped conduct interviews for students at both the district and state levels. GHP is one of the best things that GA does for its gifted and talented students. It provided me with an opportunity to be around other students who shared the same passion I had in my subject area. The GHP experience also helped me to look at others who thought quite differently than I did and help me determine why I believed some of what I believed. And … (especially for FME) I’m a conservative by nature. One thing that GHP taught me was to refrain from pre-judging people just because they had a different point of view than me. Agreeably disagreeing became a favorite pasttime. The kids I teach almost unanimously come back from GHP absolutely beaming about their experience. I’m relieved that the state restored funding.

Anonymous

May 3rd, 2010
9:01 am

GHP comes to VSU’s campus each year, doing thousands of dollars worth of damage to dorms and academic buildings. GHP Administrators are given grand master keys to the entire campus and have access to doors that they have no business enterting. The GHP students are incredibly loud and obnoxious, especially in the library. GHP’s impact on VSU is a NEGATIVE one. The program’s success comes at the expense of the VSU students. There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for GHP students nor for GHP Administrators. This program has no benefit to VSU and is an economic drain on the state.

Jeff W

May 4th, 2010
4:39 pm

I have 2 older children who attended the Duke TIPS program in the past. This past summer, my youngest made it to GHP. The thing that struck me was, while obviously the Duke kids’ parents could afford to send their bright kids to an academic program, at GHP it was obvious that many/most of the parents could not have afforded an honors camp for their children. So, these are very bright kids who, without GHP, would never have the opportunity to be in such an environment of other bright children, and high expectations, and be given a glimpse of what they can attain if they give themselves the opportunity.
I have no more children who will attend GHP, but as a Georgia tax-payer, I am glad to support this program. Probably the best use of my taxes ever by the dim-wits who run our state.

Jeff W

May 4th, 2010
4:42 pm

Annonymous,
Obvously, you did not meet the GHP qualifications. Sounds like the GHP “hoodlums” are giving you a chance to prepare for your career as a janitor though ;)

Anonymous

May 6th, 2010
10:34 am

Jeff W,

I was in “gifted” programs all throughout k-12 and was actually chosen to attend GHP (after my parents made me apply!) and turned it down (as do many others) so I could work as a summer counselor for children with disabilities. I now hold a Master’s degree and have a very successful career.

I haven’t seen any “hoodlums” in the GHP program but I DO have an issue with how they mistreat the facilities at VSU and, how they misbehave when on campus. The GHP program has abused their privileges and, has worn out their welcome. Like the time they caused over $82,000 worth of damage (fire) to one of the theaters on campus. This happened less than 3 years ago and was caused by a prank. Take a walk in the dorms and you’ll find “GHP” carved in the walls, on bulletin boards etc… They do MUCH more damage to the dorms than regular VSU students. My son, who stays on campus, can attest to that. GHP has failed to reimburse VSU for these damages because they don’t have the money. So VSU has to ask for more taxpayer money to fix the damage!

One can still argue that the program has merit… fine. But they need to bid out their conference just like other programs have to and utilize other campuses (no other campuses really want them though) but they won’t because they wouldn’t be able to get the same deal anywhere else. VSU makes NO MONEY off of the program and I am told the spend more repairing damages each year. So the taxpayers get hit AGAIN.

Not a good use of taxpayer money. People are finally starting to speak up about it. WE ARE ALL GLAD THE PROGRAM WAS CUT BACK TO 4 WEEKS.

Sam

June 11th, 2010
5:05 am

The various comments about the Governor’s Honors Program have been interesting to read. It seems that there are two main camps–1) those who attended GHP and think it totally rocks; and 2) those who think GHP is a major waste of taxpayer money. My view is sort of in the middle.

I attended GHP in the mid-’80s. No one told me exactly what to expect, and I wasn’t really prepared for what it would be like when I got there. I was someone who did not make friends that easily. I wasn’t a nerd or had 4-inch thick glasses or anything like that, but socializing was always pretty stressful for me. I always got along much better with adults than I did with my peers. In fact, even though I was fairly popular in high school, I always felt that I had more in common with my teachers than I did with my classmates.

Anyway, going to GHP was like being dropped in the middle of a lake, when you’ve never even been taught to swim. The first week was a total nightmare. I remember meeting my roommate and his parents the very first day. I got along real well with his parents, but I didn’t feel that I had that much in common with my roommate. I also didn’t know that, in general, you’re supposed to do stuff with your roommate (i.e., go to dinner, etc.) until you get the chance to meet other people. I remember going to the first orientation later that afternoon and then to dinner by myself, feeling totally lost. The first few nights, I was so uptight and anxious I couldn’t even sleep. There were about 100 people in my major (math), and it was intimidating trying to meet that many new people. Although I made conversation with a lot of people, I never seemed to find anyone that I “clicked” with. Each hour of each day, I started to get more and more depressed. I remember one night going out for a walk and then just sitting on a bench, crying my eyes out. I felt like a total freak. It seemed like everyone else was having a blast, and that I was the only person having major trouble adjusting. What was wrong with me? That question dogged me constantly. No matter what I did or who I did it with, everything felt all wrong. I just felt like I didn’t fit in. I became so depressed and confused that I started to question everything that I had ever before believed, and I no longer knew what was true and what wasn’t anymore. I had never been that depressed before in my life, and was even starting to have thoughts of suicide. I did not know what I was going to do. At the very end of the first week, it happened that I met this guy named Doug in the library. We had an instant attraction toward each other, and just “clicked.” I believe this was Providence. He was the first person I had met there like that. Anyway, I think we saw more of each other over the next few days (he was also in math), and then we started eating meals together. For me, this friendship was like a lifeline. I don’t know exactly how long it took, but my suicidal depression finally began to lift. Even though there were still many, many rough patches ahead, things slowly started to get better. Doug and I became best friends. By the third week or so, I actually started to like the place. And eventually, I reached the point that I was having so much fun at GHP that I didn’t want to go home! Anyway, I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I hadn’t met Doug.

I won’t really go into any more details, but for me, GHP was in many ways the both the best and the worst times of my life up to that point. In telling my story about GHP, my main concern is for teens who have trouble adjusting to that kind of environment. Looking back, I realize that when a teen gets as depressed as I was (it was as if there was this black net around me, choking out everything good), they could easily commit suicide. There is a ton of social pressure at GHP, and I felt I had nowhere to turn for help. Basically, at GHP, teen culture rules, and you can’t really escape it. You start to base your self-esteem on how popular you are with your peers. The thinking goes: “If people like you and you’re ‘cool,’ then you’re worth something. But if you don’t fit in, then you’re completely worthless.” You’re basically trapped in that kind of environment for 6 weeks. You can’t go home, and you can’t even leave campus (except for a couple of hours on Saturday). You have almost zero privacy, and there isn’t really an adult “safety net” that you can turn to. There is just no escape. (In high school, you can go home at the end of the day and for the weekend. And in college, at least at a large university, you can be almost totally anonymous.) In many ways, I think that’s way too much pressure to put on teens with fragile self-esteems. Even though my story had a happy ending, I think a lot of teens could end up killing themselves (or at least becoming seriously psychologically damaged) in such an environment. In fact, one time our RA told us not to look our doors, and when I asked why, he said, “Because sometimes people commit suicide behind locked doors.” Incidentally, one time I talked to a girl from South Carolina who attended the Governor’s School there, and she disliked it so much that she ended up leaving after 3 weeks.

I’m grateful for my experiences at GHP, but I’m not certain it’s something that the state should pay for. Maybe things have changed since that time, but I would say there need to be a few major changes in the way GHP is run before I could recommend it:

1) They should have sessions (directed by your RA or someone similar) in which they talk to the attendees about how scary GHP can be in terms of social pressure. They should tell you that many people have problems adjusting, and that if you feel lonely or depressed or even suicidal, it doesn’t mean you’re a freak or less normal than anyone else. They should also tell you that if you totally hate the program, you can leave–with no stigma or shame attached; and that your life is far more important than the silly program, if you feel that you don’t fit in; and that leaving doesn’t make you a weirdo. If I had known that, then I would have felt a little less pressure, because at the time I felt totally alone and isolated in my feelings, as though I was the only person on the planet who had ever felt that way, thus making me defective.

2) They should have a figure like a chaplain (or better yet, several of them) that you feel you could turn to if you ever needed help. Basically, you need a good parent substitute. GHP did have a counselor or two, but those people were pretty young, and I would’ve never felt comfortable confiding anything deeply personal in them; similarly, our RA was only about 20. In a nutshell, they need an elderly father or mother figure who comes across as very caring and supportive and non-judgmental that you would feel comfortable going to if you ever needed help.

3) They should give you a phone number to call to talk to someone where you can be anonymous, if you ever need to. IOW, if you ever need help but are too embarrassed to talk to someone in person, you could talk with someone anonymously. I think such a resource would be extremely useful. In fact, I might have even used it myself.

Anyway, although I did have some great times at GHP, it’s not something I would necessarily recommend to everyone, because there’s a ton of social pressure there. I do think it’s a bit strange, though, shortening the program to 4 weeks. When I attended, I had just started to hit my stride by about the third week, and it would’ve felt weird to go home so soon. It would also be difficult to complete a project in such a short time. Maybe they can still make the program interesting, though.

Well, that’s my 2 cents about GHP. It’s an interesting program, but not exactly all sugar ‘n’ spice ‘n’ everything nice. ;)

in support of Free Market Educator

August 28th, 2010
4:34 pm

It was also my experience when I attended a Governor’s Honors Academy this past year that the material taught was laced with Marxist/socialist propaganda. However, liberal messages in schools had sort of desensitized many of the students so that they weren’t so aware of the political agenda. We watched two videos endorsing Communism and idolizing Che Guevarra. Liberal ideas, such as global warming, gay rights, and belief in evolution were taught as doctrine. My seminar leader told her story of triumph in becoming a Democrat after a lineage of Republican parents. I’m not yet sure if I am a conservative or a liberal yet, but I am disturbed that someone would so proudly disown her heritage like that. Not only were the classes something of a joke (my writing class studied the works of mentally retarded women to enhance our writing), but we were encouraged 1. to revolt against the authorities, 2. to demand an apology from our parents, teachers, and leaders who have failed us, & 3. to reject traditional values. The reading we were to study one day in Seminar read, “Do not believe in anything simply because it is found in your religious books. Do not believe in anything based on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.” While we had a class discussion on Wicca (in which we learned never to tell a Wiccan “God bless you”) and several lessons were the teachings of Buddha, Christianity in general was looked down upon. When I asked the religions teacher a question about the Old Earth theory and Intelligent Design, she responded these issues were merely “Christian hang-ups.” In addition, we were subjected to an extremely risque play and many movies that included foul language, flashing of female genitalia, and homosexuals grinding.
I have a lot of sympathy for Sam, since I am aware that GHA’s/GHP’s are incredibly emotional experiences and with the presentation of new ideas and values, can be downright confusing. I’m also aware that in some states the suicide rate for post-Gov Honor’s Schools students is as high as 300 times the state’s average. At the beginning of the program the dean announced to all the parents, “We’re going to take your students, During the program a boy was thought to be missing. The leaders were so upset. They locked us in our dorms and stayed up all night looking for him. It was very obvious that the leaders of GHA cared immensely about the welfare of this boy. But I would ask, if so much concern went toward our physical well-being, why was there so much less concern for our emotional state?

in support of Free Market Educator

August 28th, 2010
4:39 pm

whoops didn’t finish one of my thoughts. At the beginning of the program the dean announced to all the parents, “We’re going to take your students, turn your children upside down, shake them, then recreate them…” Later in private they explained “we want you isolated from the outside world, we want to undo everything you thought to be true…” For 3-6 weeks, you are completely in their world. And it’s scary, because their values, at least in my experience, simply aren’t the ones you are raised with. Most of my friends ended up telling me how much they didn’t want to go home, to regular, stupid people, ignorant and close-minded parents who couldn’t possibly understand them and friends who didn’t have “honors brains” like us. So these kids go home with values different from their families and feeling ostracized from their families. It’s no wonder they can end up feeling shaken.