Next best thing to out-and-out geniuses. “Gifted” children

There is no topic that brings out the fire-breathing dragon in parents as gifted education. One of my most brilliant colleagues, Michael Skube, once wrote a column about gifted children that sparked an overwhelming outcry.

At the time, I was not writing about education but sat near Michael in the features newsroom and listened in amazement as he talked unhappy caller after caller down off the ledge. The fact that I can still recall a 1996 column speaks to his talents as a both a writer and a provocateur.

Michael was an intellectual in the world of journalism. As a young writer, he won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He was a noted book reviewer and now is also an academic. He is a professor at Elon.

I have had several conversations in the last few weeks about gifted education. Those talks led me to dig up Michael’s column, which I am sharing here. (He also wrote a followup piece about the parents of gifted children in his north Fulton neighborhood that almost provoked his public stoning: Among his observations: Parents pine for the TAG label. They are infatuated by giftedness  for its own sake, much in the way of people who have always been on the outside looking in.)

But here is the column that I promised:

By 7:45 a.m. the line of vans and Volvos stretches almost to the street, and the little Galileos are reporting for duty. If they are not out-and-out geniuses, they are the next best thing. They are “gifted.” It is not enough that they be like the kids in Lake Wobegon, above average and for the most part happy. They must wear a tag. In fact, TAG is what it’s called.  It is the acronym for the “talented and gifted programs in the public schools.

I would have thought the entire school was in TAG. Every child I was meeting seemed to be among the gifted, another prodigy brought forth from the fertile fields of north Fulton County. Elsewhere, season upon season might bring crop failure, but in the suburbs giftedness flowers. It does make you wonder.

Out of curiosity, I drew up two lists. In one column I wrote the names of my children’s friends who were in TAG. Within a minute I had written a dozen names. In the other column I wrote the names of those who were not. I came up with exactly two – children who, for what it’s worth, are winning in every way and bright to boot.

I hadn’t been aware that brilliance was in such abundance. Certainly its producers, the parents for whom TAG is a Holy Grail, keep it under wraps. Not that they are dolts, but they would not strike you as anything more than garden-variety intelligent either. They are ordinary people of ordinary achievement, with a sometimes desperate need to claim something extraordinary in their lives. And so the child in TAG carries the burden of the parents’ expectations.

If I seem skeptical about this business of gifted and talented children, it’s closer to the truth to say I’m ambivalent. All parents want the best courses and best teaching for their children. The public schools, by gearing the curriculum to the lowest common denominator, have made parents only more anxious to get their children into programs like TAG.

At the same time, a loony egalitarianism has tarred academic tracking as “elitist.” Charles Willie, a professor of education at Harvard, has declared that public education should not seek excellence but adequacy, and should value singing and dancing as much as “communication and calculation.”

That’s precisely the problem. Influenced by the Willie worms of the education bureaucracy, many schools are headed in the direction of know-nothingism. It’s hard to question parents who want their children to leave school knowing something more than the Macarena.

But if exceptional intelligence is an attribute like any another, then you should expect a corresponding number of morons. Alas, these don’t seem to be in evidence. Just the gifted. Talk to some people in public education and they will tell you all children are gifted. This is just silly. If everyone’s gifted, no one is. But set that aside. The larger point is the pernicious notion that the child as he is somehow is not enough.

Children, like adults, are talented in various ways. But the genuinely gifted will always be few, and not always luckier for having those gifts. Most are just children, a large number of whom have more than ample intelligence but not always intellectual curiosity. The one does not always imply the other, and, given a choice, a person is better to be blessed with curiosity than with extreme intelligence

But you don’t hear those parents talking about intellectual curiosity, perhaps because they don’t possess much of it themselves. They are enamored more of an impossibly vague concept they construe to mean extraordinary gifts. It is seldom admitted that those gifts are supposed to reflect well on parents.

What they in fact reflect is nothing more than the insecurity of the parent. I was a beneficiary of a rigidly stratified tracking system, though not in grade school, and I’m not sure a single person in our class was truly gifted. And no one called us that, although several of our wittier classmates had the reputation.

I remember a demanding geometry teacher who was less impressed with us than we were with ourselves. He had left a folder on his desk and someone pried into it enough to know it contained tantalizing information. Pressed by a group of sophomores to disclose who was top dog in the top class, he opened the folder and, as if to sober us up, said matter-of-factly, “There are a lot of good people in here, but nobody’s really up there. It’s what you do with what you got.”

A pall fell over the room – it’s in the nature of sophomores, perhaps, to think too well of themselves. Here was a heartless man telling us that genius was not in our midst, but that any of us could do what we set our minds to doing. We were, in other words, good enough, which turned to be more than enough.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

117 comments Add your comment


December 21st, 2010
12:27 pm

My daughter participates in the Gifted program in our school system, it has allowed her to be in classes with students who actually care about their education. I have always believed that gifted doesn’t mean you are a genius, but a hard worker and strives for high achievement.

It has kept my daughter on a college preparatory path, with success in several AP courses. As a parent, I don’t care what you call it.


December 21st, 2010
12:29 pm

Love it, lol. Hey, isn’t it enough that your kid does well? Do we really need the label? Like the man said, isn’t intellectual curiosity what we really want our children to possess?


December 21st, 2010
12:34 pm

“The public schools, by gearing the curriculum to the lowest common denominator, have made parents only more anxious to get their children into programs like TAG.”

Ahh, now we get to the crux of the issue. For the first 6-8 years of a students education, they are all sitting together in the same classroom. The future valedictorian and the borderline retard, the ESOL student who can’t speak a lick of English, the SPed student, and all the behavior problems. We expect the poor teacher to “differentiate” instruction to reach this disparate group.

Schools should group by ability level and teach in a manner and pace commensurate with the class’ ability level, but the politically correct will not let them. The moment minorities are over represented in the lower levels, they will scream discrimination and racism and call for an end to the practice.

Lord knows we don’t want to offend anybody.


December 21st, 2010
12:45 pm

Lee–wonder how it would work in my system (84% white, 15% Latino, 1% biracial/cultural)?

I propose NOT grouping by “ability”, but by achievement level. Ability you can’t change much, BUT IF YOU WORK HARD YOU CAN DO A LOT TO RAISE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT!


December 21st, 2010
12:47 pm


December 21st, 2010
12:29 pm

When the expectations in most classrooms and school systems is low expectations; it’s NOT enough that my child just does well. People have low expectations for young black children; I read it on this blog daily.

I’ve also met with teachers who only perform the minimum expected in their courses. The kids label them easy graders; I would fire all of them if I could.

Maureen wrote an article a few months ago about a student who completed highschool as an “A” student, who couldn’t get into college. The expectations were set very, very LOW and they did this beautiful student a disservice. Someone who came to school and actually wanted to do the required work was met with failure. It makes me sick.

Dr. Proud Black Man

December 21st, 2010
12:52 pm

“TAG” evokes many a laugh and anecdotal tale in the small district that I live in. Good concept but as its practiced here in Boondocks, GA its used to TRY to stop the White parents from fleeing the system. I say let em go.


December 21st, 2010
12:59 pm

I’ve taught in two middle schools (for 3+ years each) in which white students make up less than 30% of the enrollment; however, the gifted class enrollment in both was over 80% white. The district has claimed for years that they are trying to revise the qualification process to make the programs more diverse, but I have yet to see that. Do they honestly think we should believe that such a higher percentage of white students is naturally “gifted”? (The unspoken but commonly known reality is that white parents push the administrators to get their kids in these classes so they can pat themselves on the back for being in a “diverse” school without actually experiencing much of the diversity in the TAG program.)


December 21st, 2010
1:00 pm

When I was in school some 25 years ago, I was one of 4 “gifted” students in my grade. Man, did that make my head swell. Today I have a large head and an otherwise average life.


December 21st, 2010
1:04 pm

It’s not a statistical wonder that there are a lot of gifted students in North Fulton, Dunwoody, and East Cobb. Smart parents = (for the most part) smart kids. Smart parents = successful parents = well to do neighborhoods. Yes, they are all clustered together.

Gifted programs give my children an opportunity to reach higher than the lowest common denominator expected out of the CRCT. It gives them the chance to advance faster than their peers without worrying about Suzie’s “self-esteem” because she can’t do the math that the rest of the kids can. It gives them the chance to delve deeper into a subject.

I am proud of my children. I wish I could afford private schooling or the ability to homeschool them. Since I can’t, I am happy that at least my school provides something for the smarter ones. Lord knows that there are an ENORMOUS AMOUNT of resources dedicated to the “special needs”.


December 21st, 2010
1:05 pm

why dont you move out of boondocks ga?

Cobb Teacher

December 21st, 2010
1:06 pm

Maureen, Thank you for sharing this. We just finished gifted testing at our school and I have had to console many parents whose children did not earn high enough scores for the program. My line is always the same, but very true in each case: Your child is very smart. Please know that. You should be very proud that he/she was tested.

The biggest difference between “smart” and “gifted” is the intellectual curiousity mentioned in this article. When I fill out the Renzulli creativity and motivation survey for all of my first graders, I realize that some parents would disagree with my response. In fact, some parents have responded with, “My child did everything he was asked and got 100% on that test. What do you mean they didn’t get the highest score in motivation?” Yes, he did get 100%. But that’s not giftedness. That’s a strong student.

The Renzulli uses langauge like ” shows intense interest in topics” and “has sustained focus” on the survey. Getting 100% on a test on magnets isn’t intense. It would be intense for that child to then go home, without any assignment from the teacher, and create experiements of his own using magnets. It would be even more intense for that child to pack up those experiments and bring them to school to show the class. With all of the teachers lamenting their apathetic students on this blog, I have to say I have several children in my class who do this consistently. These are the children who will be starting gifted education in January.

My advice to parents whose children were tested and didn’t qualify is to be thankful that your child shows enough gifted qualities to be tested.

Public Education was boring

December 21st, 2010
1:08 pm

Gifted all my life and still bored with 5 degrees.


December 21st, 2010
1:08 pm

“MIAMI — Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the military fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions.”

The highschool diploma is a WORTHLESS piece of CRAP.

If you don’t realize there is something wrong with our education systems in this country, you have your head in the sand.


December 21st, 2010
1:17 pm

Nothing kills intellectual curiosity faster than our educational system. Considering intellectual curiosity is what led humanity to dominate the planet, that’s quite a negative accomplishment.


December 21st, 2010
1:25 pm

In my experience the parents of truly gifted offspring are usually discrete about it. It’s the parents of the gifted wannabes who boast and try to wear it as a personal badge of honor.

That includes the soccer moms with “My child is an honor student at _____ Middle School” bumper stickers on their mini vans.

Parental Reform

December 21st, 2010
1:31 pm

I’m only a college senior myself, but I’m a product of the kind of thing we’re discussing here. East Cobb area public schools in the “Target” program for IQ’s higher-than-normal at age 5 (not a metric I really stand behind, by the way), called “gifted” in every school I ever attended and slid pretty easily into and through Georgia Tech. What are my thoughts on the issue here? Well, for one, I agree with the point that not all of these “gifted” students are set up for success. I think parents of a 4th-grader want to believe they are, but to be honest, some of my “gifted” gradeschool peers dropped out of highschool, got pregnant, went to jail, or have since died. That’s not an exaggeration. They may well have had a high IQ, but what are the factors that pushed them into lifestyles I’m sure they’re parents and the gifted programs were not trying to aim them toward? You have to look at the social environment and, in my opinion, the parents. For the other side of the coin, I know almost as many peers from the same area (white, black, and eveything else) who were not in these programs and have graduated from decent universities in the state and region and have jobs right now. I think if we looked, they probably had more involved parents in a consistent home and kept friends who also influenced them toward success.

In short, if intellectual curiosity is the goal (as I believe it is indeed much better than IQ or any other measure of intelligence alone), then we need to realize curiosity is seen in actions. Those actions need to be exemplified by parents and peers. Teachers can only do so much to that end. Children will learn more from the example of family and friends. If Mom and Dad like to study things (the encyclopedia or even Wikipedia) then the kids are likely to develop that habit of realizing that when they have a question they can, with a little work, go get that question answered. It’s learning by example. Always has been. And it’s almost entirely on the parents.

That’s my I-don’t-yet-have-children-but-I-am-a-TAG-product 2 Cent assessment.


December 21st, 2010
1:33 pm

@Enough…oh, drat. My comment was NOT directed at you. When I began the post, there were no comments. I apologize if you thought I was speaking directly to you.


December 21st, 2010
2:03 pm

@EnoughAlready, my 2nd grader is in TAG, and while his father and I think he’s a genius (obviously we’re a bit biased!!), I agree with you that it’s not the label that matters, rather that for 1 day a week he is among kids who share the same interest and zest for learning. I fully realize that kids learn and develop and different rates, and not everyone makes straight As, so while it’s fine for my child to be in homeroom, specials and some subjects with his entire class with kids at all levels, he also needs to have that focused time with kids on his level where he will be challenged more and hopefully stay on that path of intellectual curiosity throughout the rest of his formal education.


December 21st, 2010
2:05 pm

@Giant, you are so right. When my child tested into TAG, the only people we told beyond immediate family was anyone who asked us directly about it. Otherwise, low key is good. It also helps to keep the kid modest and humble, qualities that seem to be harder to find among kids today!

Annie Nomolous

December 21st, 2010
2:14 pm

I just read a story saying thar 23% of high school grads cannot pass the military entance exam.

Our public schools pretty much suck and the only hope for those children in them are the gifted programs.

My daughter was in the gifted program, took AP classes in high school and was a HOPE scholar. She had to take remedial classes at GA State

Children work to the level of what is expected of them. If they are told they are gifted, and they work to that level …fantastic! I always wanted my children to be in classes with the gifted kids.


December 21st, 2010
2:15 pm


December 21st, 2010
2:22 pm

Funny – I remember when gifted was another ‘branch’ of special education…..

Gifted Teacher

December 21st, 2010
2:24 pm

I am a high-school teacher who grew up in a rural area and has worked in urban and suburban school districts. I have taught everything from technical level up to gifted level. I was the valedictorian of my high-school class and my college graduating class and have two advanced degrees. I never considered myself a genius and didn’t get the “gifted” label until I was a senior in high school, but I had (still have) a tremendous work ethic instilled by my parents and a natural love of reading and an insatiable case of academic curiousity.

There’s a lot of anger and misinformation in this blog. As Ms. Downey said, this topic brings out the “fire-breathing dragons.” Some of you are using it another excuse just to slam public education. Some are using it to say how “smart” the parents must be and that’s why there are so many “gifted” kids in some areas.

As an educator, I also lament the fact that what goes on in our classrooms is not ideal. Standardized testing–thank you all of the politicians and others who think we can measure academic outcomes and teacher effectiveness like productivity on an assembly line–have taken the emphasis off critical thinking, creativity and curiosity. It also takes away valuable instructional time–juniors in high school lose weeks that one year because of all the tests they have to take. Packing too many students in a room because of budget cuts, taking away teacher planning time because of furloughs, or even cutting the school week to 4 days to save money have all impacted the ability of teachers to individualize instruction. And angry people like some on this blog who simply deride teachers and public education without considering all the factors do nothing but make the situation worse. Have you ever thought about how your lack of respect and negative attitude infects your children?

Should we have tracking and “gifted” classes? Absolutely yes. We need to move the bar up for every student, and some start with a higher bar than others. We need to take each child where he/she is and push up. As much as they would like to, even the most talented teachers can’t do that with 25-25 students of heterogeneous ability levels in one classroom.

As I said earlier, I’ve seen about every educational setting possible, even student teaching in a private school. Kids are kids. What changes is parent and community involvement in education and resources available to teachers and students. “Giftedness” is sometimes a product of parenting and access to resources. Students who come to school with rich background experiences like trips to museums and summer camps and homes full of books are going to score higher on the tests given to qualify for gifted programs. Students who are more academically motivated and harder working will score higher on the Renzulli ratings by teachers. We need to find a way to include more students in enrichment programs and use more flexible definitions of “giftedness.” We know we all have different strengths and “intelligences”.


December 21st, 2010
2:26 pm

Instead of making TAG education and classes dependent on intellectual curiosity (however that’s defined), make it dependent on student achievement and hard work. Why not reward those students who actually work hard in school? As a former high school teacher, I had students in TAG who weren’t near as driven as the “run of the mill smart” students.

Veteran teacher, 2

December 21st, 2010
2:27 pm

Gifted wannabes and their parents are a nightmare. They think they are “gifted” because they are bored. A gifted child is NEVER bored. He/she will expand whatever you are doing if they are beyond it. The most gifted student I ever have had was in an Algebra 2 class. He would absorb what we were doing in a matter of minutes and then start proving all the theorems involved. He would bring his proofs up to me after class, and honestly, his proofs were better than most that have been published. That same class was filled with gifted wannabes. They all either griped that were bored, or the class was too hard. The wannabes could have studied number theory along with the truly gifted kid had they wanted to. I offered. They all said it was too much work.

I love to have truly gifted kids in my classes. We always have a great time, and I end up learning a lot from them. I ALWAYS get loads of thanks from their parents, and the parents keep me informed about their progress in college. You can keep the wannabes!


December 21st, 2010
2:29 pm

Not 23% of high school grads…23% of those who take the test. There’s a self selection process going on there.

My kid’s in the ‘challenge’ program, and I’m happy he is – and he’s there precisely for the reasons mentioned. He gets to be with kids who are more interested in being there, with kids who don’t disrupt his day, with kids who are capable of doing more.
As mentioned, if our schools didn’t just graduate kids who can’t do anything, then parents wouldn’t be so desperate that their kids are in the classes. But when reading isn’t even required for a high school diploma, parents want something more for their kids.


December 21st, 2010
2:32 pm

Oh Lordy – Renzulli – what a bunch of snake oil! Here buy an expensive subscription to my search engine for gifted kids – never-mind that Google etc are free.Mine is SPECIAL!


December 21st, 2010
2:33 pm

Gifted in GA = Elitist. period. end of story.


December 21st, 2010
2:35 pm

My 2nd grader is in the “gifted” program. The reason is simple. When I pick him up at the end of the day the 1st question I ask him is “what did you learn today” and we talk about it..When we get home, its any unfinished homework 1st, playtime afterwords. Stop using schools as your babysitters and put some expectations on your kids.

Bored in Class

December 21st, 2010
2:35 pm

I was a product of Dekalb County education system through 7th grade. We had the “Discovery” program, which was the gifted program of that era. I was asked to take the test at the end of 3rd grade and started the program in the 4th grade. Our regular classes were a mess. There were normally 30 to 40 in each classroom and way too many problems for the teacher to be effective. When 4th grade came and I started in to the Discovery program, we were able to learn much more. I believe there was maybe 15 total that were label “gifted” out of 80 to 90 for the entire grade. The gifted program opens a students eyes into higher learning. Out of our gifted program, there were 3 that ended up in Ivy League schools and 2 of them actually made a perfect SAT score. We were able to learn math that carried us through highschool and even portions through college and all of this was taught to us by the 7th grade.

I am also one who went to GA Tech and didn’t have much of a problem there. I honestly think much of my success was from the Discovery Program and other after school activities that were available to us in elementary school. Seems most of the kids that were in the program had parents that were more involved in the PTA and were the ones that were always pushing their children to do better. People need to realize that everyone is not cut out for a “gifted” program. And that is not derogatory, I have many friends from school that were not labeled as “gifted” and most all of them have turned out to be successful in life. I do think that the gifted programs are good to help push children that accelerate in learning more quickly than others. When I got bored in class, I was disruptive and was told to take a nap or to go outside. This did not benefit me or the other children that needed the extra help in learning.

HS Public Teacher

December 21st, 2010
2:38 pm

To qualify as gifted in high school, the student must take tests and score very highly on these (sometimes in the top 95 percentile). They are standarized tests on IQ, creativity, etc., and are highly regarded and respected tests.

I don’t get this author. Are they saying that gifted students don’t exist? Are they saying that the gifted student doesn’t matter? I fear that they are just being flippant about the whole thing.

There is a clear-cut definition of TAG. There is a State of GA mandate to service those students correctly identified as such.

If you want to create another catagory (the “tried as hard as they could” or whatever), then feel free to do so. But, leave TAG alone.

Every child is not gifted. Anyone that says this doesn’t know what “gifted” means.

NCLB forced education to pander to the lowest common denominator and often the gifted student is the one that is left behind. I guess the US doesn’t need to foster and grow it’s most gifted citizens for future research and problem solving?

HS Public Teacher

December 21st, 2010
2:42 pm

@Me -

Gifted is another branch of special education. In the State of GA, this is how the law treats gifted and we are required to provide them services just as we would other students with special needs. These services are offered but, as with all services, are optional for the student.

Some students that have been identified as gifted in my school opt out of those services for a variety of reasons….. sometimes they just don’t want their friends to think of them as different.

HS Public Teacher

December 21st, 2010
2:46 pm

My philosophy of education is that every child/student deserves the opportunity and be challenged to go beyond their capability. And, we as teachers/education need to provide this to ALL students.

TAG is just the vehicle used to accomplish this for the identified gifted student.

Why is this a bitter pill for some to swallow?


December 21st, 2010
2:48 pm

Im not a genius but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.


December 21st, 2010
2:49 pm

I think the biggest benefit of TAG is the opportunity to do some learning that is not fully tracked toward some standardized test with fill in the bubble answers. Life is about choices, but it isn’t about A, B,C, or D. It is more likely about figuring out what A means to you, what B means to you, etc.

I wish more of the classes for all students were about projects and ideas once they get beyond the basics. Isolate the disruptive kids and push the interested ones to learn…regardless of how gifted someone thinks they are.

Primary Teacher

December 21st, 2010
2:50 pm

@Gifted Teacher, Thank you well said. I agree with you on so many levels and your words are my breath of fresh air. Now if only the people who are in charge of creating the tests, standards and all that other stuff that is taking away from valuable instructional time would pay attention.

Side bar to Cracker and Dr.Proud Black Man, please stop the bantering this is insane and not the point at all. Stick to the issue and help find a solution not add to the probelm with your negative words. Find a another blog to feed your nasty spirits with.


December 21st, 2010
2:56 pm

A gifted regime without intellectual curiousity and questioning what is standard is a waste of time. One of our kids asked to be taken out of the gifted program as she felt material was being pushed on her without time to absorb and really understand the work presented. She wants to be prepared for college by learning & understanding rather than being judged by one test after another. Pretty deep coming from a 12 year old! The workplace does not judge you by your test scores or care if you were in a gifted program. The hunger for more knowledge and intellectual stimulation is the key to learning and success. Stretching your mind is what counts and keeps one striving for the bigger goal. A kid that is successful today may not be in 20 years and the successful adult today may have been a ok student. Set a good example at home. Read, read, read outside of school. A child who goes above and beyond the standard is gifted in my world.


December 21st, 2010
2:56 pm

HS Public Teacher, the author is right on the money, his contention is not that there are no gifted students, but there are too many labled as such. As with any other public entitlement if a larger or more special entitlement is not earned by what is percieved to be a mix reflective of the population it is artificially altered to do so. This fact is clear. The authors point of “But if exceptional intelligence is an attribute like any another, then you should expect a corresponding number of morons.” is quite simple and obvious. And while the execution of NCLB is poor (mostly due to local administration) the goal was exactly opposite of pandering to the lowest common denominator, the intent was to reward the successful, but of course that requires acknowledgement that some are more worthy of reward then others (either teachers or students) and that kind of cogent thought is simply not tolerated in todays world of academia


December 21st, 2010
2:57 pm

My child goes to a wonderful elementary school in West Cobb County and I can you that alot of her classmates who are now in the 2-3rd year of Target classes and simply not the best and brightest students. I have sat with these same ‘gifted’ children in class and they can barely do simple multiplication in 4th grade. I do think they were tested more on creativity and problem solving than intelligence, because several make barely passing grades and I do not want to hear it is because they are ‘bored’. No, they don’t care. They have been lead to believe they are better than the other students, which is a false and dangerous perception. In the end, it makes me believe that Target is a shame. It is a marketing ploy to make parents feel good about the school district. Also, these same kids, HATE Target and wish they could leave the program, but then what would Mommy and Daddy have to brag about it.

As for public school squelching creativity, I do believe that. All of the kids must think the same way and if a kid colors the sky green they are an outcast instead of a possible artist who just happens to see the world differently. Difference should be celebrated, but instead they are vilified. I do not believe private schools are any better in this regard. They all produce cookie cutter results.


December 21st, 2010
2:59 pm

I have not been too impressed with the challenge program here in Georgia in the 2 systems we have been in. When we were in Tallahassee, the program was much better (but the schools in general were worse). There the kids got pulled out for instruction every day, PLUS two days a week they went to Fl A and M university for special classes. Example: My second grade son got a class in musical composition and annotation, and another in basic chemistry stuff.


December 21st, 2010
2:59 pm

I also have a gifted child but man, having one does start the competition with other mothers when they find out. Why do adults have to act this way?

Tom Teacher

December 21st, 2010
3:03 pm

As a teacher and a parent of 3 who have “qualified as gifted,” I have seen enough to form an opinion or two. 1)Many students who qualify as gifted in 1st grade, would not later on. Don’t try to tell the parents; they’d go nuts. 2) Gifted classes separate kids from many kids who cause disruption to learning. All gifted kids do not care about learning, but many are raised to not cause a disturbance in class. 3) Gifted classes in HS are often taught at such a ridiculously hard level as to destroy GPAs. For example, my “gifted” child had an F in “gifted pre-cal,”, even with a tutor, so we dropped him to honors. He made A’s with no tutor. I think the gifted program offers much to our kids; however, the ones who get gyped are the bright, non-gifted kids. It all evens out in HS where they meet again in the AP classes.


December 21st, 2010
3:24 pm

Gifted Teacher makes some good points I agree with some and not with others. But one point I strongly disagree with and I believe illuminates the problem is that “Giftedness is sometimes impacted by access to resources” This implicitly means given equivelent resources, anyone can be gifted, which is also to say no one is. Clearly access to resources or involved parents can lead to success in those endeavors that we select to deem one gifted. But it in no way makes one gifted. It is this very perception that undermines the good intentions of such programs


December 21st, 2010
3:27 pm

Thank god the ridiculous age restrictions “encouraged” my parents to put me into a Montessori school and then into a school for gifted children. I can’t imagine how stunted my educational growth would have been had I been imprisoned in the Los Angeles Unified School district for 12 years. Government schooling is as you pointed out, geared towards the lowest common denominator. It is specifically designed to destroy the individual and to create the obedient and compliant citizen and worker bee. It achieves these goals with outstanding results. Those who think that government schools are a failure don’t fully understand their purpose.


December 21st, 2010
3:27 pm

Well said Gifted Teacher! No other comment needed….

Keeping Silent

December 21st, 2010
3:30 pm

@Tom Teacher, you are so right. Growing up, I was of those kids who was tagged as gifted but chose to hide it because it made me so different. I have all the tests and numbers to prove that I really am and even now, well into the adult world, people remark on my intelligence.

But the “gifted” classes in high school cost me a chance to go to college because they destroyed my GPA. The reason? The prep classes, also tagged as “gifted,” still didn’t prepare me for the class. That being said, I don’t regret taking them because I learned how to learn, and I’ve done much better than many people who do have a college degree.

College Mom

December 21st, 2010
3:31 pm

I’ll never forget our PTA Uber Mom referring to her son as “TAG Served” when the kids were headed to Middle School. It took me a while to figure out that she meant he took all TAG classes.


December 21st, 2010
3:38 pm

I am a product of the Dekalb County School System; one of those children who crawled through the cracks. When I “graduated,” and I say this with a sense of shame and disguise; no counselor/teacher ever suggested college as even a possibility for me. Me, one of you. Now, you can blame both of my parents for not preparing me for college; for not pushing me into AP classes, or for not moving me to the north suburbs, but since both of them were dead before I left middle school, let’s elminate those excuses.

I was able to pull myself up by my boot straps and obtain a degree from a very exclusive private college in New York. If a child is not prepared for school, or they have no parental support, so be it, we need to leave them by the wayside. Let them fuel the prison industrial complex or act as the parasitical underclass they are meant to be. The school system has too much to worry about with the “gifted” white children to worry about the minority “underachievers.” Why should the county be charged with spending taxpaying white citizens money on non-productive blacks and hispanics? If not for them would teachers be forced to cheat? Would administrators be forced to steal? The school sytem is fine the way it is.

These unprepared and ungifted children are draining the limited resources available for the gifted children. I have two young boys in the public school system that I must worry about; their future job prospects;where they’ll live, etc.–it’s either them or us.

Did I mention I was black and this is the same song you racist have been singing since 1865?


December 21st, 2010
3:41 pm

A fellow teacher of gifted calls the kids who got in the program in first grade and faded by fourth grade the “fixin’ to be gifted.” Dump Renzulli and Torrance; use only cognitive and achievement scores. I’ve found that the students with high scores in these areas usually do well in academic gifted classes.


December 21st, 2010
3:55 pm

I taught in North Carolina in the Elementary Gifted Program.
Pull out program for 45 children spread between 3 schools.
I saw some of them for one hour…TOTAL 15 times throughout the year.
I decided I would rather teach the entire class based on the “gifted” approach and treat everyone the same. So, I went back to the classroom. Less children…more individual attention…

The Gifted Program, TAG, Challenge…another name for… show me the money…

I moved to Atlanta, Georgia…
Warren T. Jackson Elementary…and Ms. B. F
What a joke!

I’ve seen one gifted child in my teaching career.
The rest of the children were smart…bright…exposed… and what I call the cookie cutter kid…
( which is most of Buckhead Atlanta…tragically the truly gifted is probably on the Southside of Atlanta in some troubled school )

If you want to know how to get your child in the gifted program…ON THE NORTHSIDE OF ATLANTA…It’s called DONATIONS to the highest bidder.

Gifted on the Northside is code word for “1st step into the Neighborhood Private Schools” Ms.B. F would give you the CORRECT neighborhood psychologist that would administer the qualifying test.

Now, once everyone was properly paid with DONATIONS AND GIFTS…you too, could have a “Gifted Child”…Just one of the many secrets on the Northside of Atlanta…

Donations/Jackson Elementary…explaining how it works.
The mystery behind the “Principal’s Fund”, Miscellaneous Account, Reorganization Account, General Fund, Title One Funds, PTA, Media Account, moving funds from one account to the other??? APS Accounts-Tax Paid Money
APS-Open Records requests did NOT clear up the mystery behind Reich’s school accounts…the money was everywhere… “Just give me the money”

Maureen…I thought this article was great…Reminds me of the bible story about the multiplying fish…Use what you’ve got…enough has already been given…

“There are a lot of good people in here, but nobody’s really up there. It’s what you do with what you got.”