Monday, May 16, 2011

no shit

I remember being in the “talented-and-gifted” program, it was called TAG, at Rockbrook elementary school back in my day. I’m not sure how it happened, but it primarily involved being able to go on field trips throughout the year with the other TAG kids: ice cream plants and potato chip factories – nothing Earth-shattering or academic. I vaguely suspect it was like being on fire patrol (red belts) or safety patrol (white belts): if you raised your hand, you were in. As far as I know, there wasn’t any testing involved and it certainly couldn’t have been based on academic achievement. I think the grading rubric (how did that word become so popular?) at my elementary school involved Pass, Fail, Tried, Trouble. There’s your No Child Left Behind testing spectrum from the early to mid-1970s.

What brings this up is an Andrew Sullivan post on the T-and-G crowd which I suspect is much larger these days, but still based roughly on the same hand-raising or self-selecting process. Clearly, there was no improvement in my academic future because I got little gift bags of potato chips at the end of my tour at Lay’s. Of course, this whole talent-and-gifted idea is wholly separate from actual academic achievement (Honors, AP, and etc.) I’m pretty amazed that anything like this still even exists in elementary and middle school – did I need a survey to tell me that a year-and-a-half of exposure to mindless field trips doesn’t equate to a student being better off?

I don’t even want to consider Megan McCardle’s issue with talented-and-gifted programs – which she has somehow conflated into a public v. private v. voucher school discussion. I will tip my hand on that issue and say that I think vouchers are a horrible idea. Details? To come. (Full disclosure: my high schooler is in private school, but not via a voucher program.)

p.s. While digging for a picture, I came up an Amazon review for potato chips. Who writes a review for potato chips?

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