Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things are looking up!

We went to the ob yesterday and heard the baby's heartbeat- a strong 170!

My morning sickness seems to have had it's last grand hurrah on the misery that was Sunday. This morning I was able to drink coffee. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll get to tackle chocolate!

Temperatures are around freezing which is irritating in some ways but this has led to a rapid decrease in pollen so, I get a reprieve from sinus pain.

The ob cleared me to see a PT about my leg pain and I was able to get an appointment for Wednesday- yipee!

My pink eye soldiers on and is irritating but I managed to catch it early enough that it's at least bearable.

I have managed to sleep from 10pm until 5 am for two nights straight. Whoo!

I've also managed to reach a parenting milestone. I have reached my worry awareness limit. Someone brought up that I should be aware of my nitrates and raise my egg intake and I just didn't care. I have reached my upper limit. I am aware of artificial sweeteners, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, listeria, salmonella, mercury, and a myriad of other potential hazards and I just can't cram anymore in so, science, you're on notice- there's no room at the inn.

In other areas, there is something I just have to get off my chest. I realize I have about 3 readers- perhaps less after my mega-whine on Sunday but, I must say it.

I was a special ed teacher. I have strong feelings about inclusion and it's many benefits for all children. It teaches all kids lots of great things like acceptance, flexibility, and social skills, among many other things. If children are encouraged to work in groups the brighter ones learn concepts better by having to find new ways to explain them to kids still struggling. If I have one more person tell me that inclusion is ruining their child's education because their child is gifted and the included kids are holding their child back, I won't be responsible for my actions. I am not saying that gifted ed in the current system is fabulous but, the problem isn't inclusion. The problem is that intelligence and achieving above the norm aren't generally valued in greater society no matter what anyone might say. Legally speaking, school systems are required to educate children sufficient to keep them at grade level, at no point are they required to educate them to their full potential. In fact, both students performing 2 standard deviations below AND those performing 2 standard deviations ABOVE the norm are theoretically part of the special education population. But, the funding, and hence the research, has been greatly focused on those students below the norm since, with the incredible scarcity of resources that comprises the educational research funding pool, the kids below the norm need the research just to survive and not be treated like livestock. In addition, implementation and best practice are two very different things so, before you slam inclusion, try to find out if your system or child's teacher is actually implementing it effectively and well. Find out who's structuring the program and what background they have. Inclusion looks completely different from one system to the next and there isn't much guidance or help given to help school systems figure out what works beyond murky and ill-funded regulations.

On a state and local level, kids far above the norm, are neglected through lack of funding for programs. In addition, identification is a nightmare with the many difficulties of deciding what means "gifted." Is it kids who have a high iq? What about cultural biases in testing? Do you include children who can barely read but are artistic prodigies? How do you deal with the politics of placating parents and teachers who are convinced a child is gifted when they might not be? How do you control for kids who's parents exposed them to all manner of cultural enrichment and look fabulous at 5 but not so great at 10?

At the same time, every parent feels that vocational prep is the death knell to their child's future when, in fact, a good number of plumbers make far more than my husband with the doctorate. In one of the great societal contradictions, we don't like anyone to get too far ahead of the pack but we don't want anyone to think we can't keep up either. So, every child winds up doing college prep and I had to fight tooth and nail to be able to teach some of my students pre-vocational skills like how to write a check instead of what a rhombus was. And, even if your child is gifted and might make a fabulous researcher, if he wants to be a fabulous carpenter instead, is that the end of the world? There's at least one carpenter that had a late career change and revolutionized the world.

Pulling your kid out of school and homeschooling doesn't change anything. Complaining doesn't change anything. Being at war with other parents doesn't help anyone. Being at war with teachers turns your greates allies into your foes. If you want better gifted ed vote for people who went to colleges you couldn't get into and use words you have to look up. Push for funding for the NSA over the NSF. Give the math team a pep rally and let the football players fend for themselves for a night. Fight for music programs. Give the kid wearing the weird clothes a job. As long as we're a country that votes for the plain talker and the good ol' boy on national, state, and local levels, gifted education will suffer. There's no reason why both forms of special ed can't be funded, studied, researched, and improved, but we have to stop loving toeing the line and fitting in first. I've heard lots of parents complain but, I also know who they voted for, and it wasn't the gifted candidate...

1 comment:

Amelia said...

Wow, kudos to that.