When Everything is Equal, Nothing is Fair
Baltimore County Public Schools have come up with their latest plan to make everyone equal. Maryland law requires that all school districts operate programs for children who are gifted and talented. These programs are often known simply as G&T. State law requires that schools identify the special learning needs of these kids and tailor programs to meet those needs. Roughly 20% of the children in Baltimore County meet the standard to qualify as gifted and talented. In the past these students were taught in separate classes by teachers with training to meet their unique needs.
Now comes the latest great idea from the Jackass Tree. This one hits multiple branches on its way down. Instead of being in separate classes, gifted and talented kids would be with other kids and the teacher would move around the small groups in the classroom changing instructional method and materials as she goes. REALLY! First of all the average elementary teacher teaches five subjects-language arts, reading, math, science and social studies. If the teacher needs to prepare different lessons for each of these groups, that is fifteen lesson plans per day! How can one teacher be expected to pull this off especially given that the very bright kids should be taught a curriculum that capitalizes on their ability to think creatively and problem solve. The lower functioning kids will demand attention by their behavior and academic needs. While the so-called average kids will suffer the disenfranchisement that every middle child in a family knows. High school teachers usually teach a 6 period day, so that would mean 12-18 lesson preparations in a day depending on how many periods of the same subject a high school teacher teaches.
The expectation that any teacher no matter how well-meaning could do this day in and day out for 28.5 students is totally unreasonable or realistic. In our high schools it is also possible that the .5 student is not a statistical average but a female student about to give birth. Bringing many social problems into the classroom along with the academic ones.
Gifted children learn differently. They require a separate curriculum. They need teachers with special training to address their special challenges. Gifted kids are not just plants in fertile soil that will flourish no matter what. They need to be guided as well as taught.
If our society does not address the learning needs of this very important group of kids, we will all suffer in the long run. These are the nation builders right here at home. They need, and we must demand, people trained to develop those talents so that our entire society benefits. Equality is not equity. Fair is not equal.