Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

To be young, gifted, and in Reno

By Aussiegirl

Thomas Lifson of the always on-target American Thinker, brings to our attention a new program for the profoundly gifted that has been inaugurated in Reno, Nevada schools. What is amazing about this is that it even managed to get enacted. For too long the education establishment in this country has positively discriminated against those with exceptional talents in favor of providing extra help to those who underachieve or have poor academic performance. As a result we are wasting a good deal of talent as gifted students are not challenged, and often find themselves held back and bored by a dumbed-down curriculum. We have to take back control over our public schools from the self-perpetuating teacher's unions that have stifled creativity and excellence for too long. Important article here.

The American Thinker

My attitude toward public education in America usually vacillates between anger and despair. Despite spending more money per pupil than any other major country, American public schools progressively dumb down our kids, as revealed in international comparisons on standardized tests. The longer our students attend public schools, the lower their ranking compared to other nations. Lower grades of primary schools score well, but by the end of high school, American students rank near the bottom.

Public schools are, frankly, mostly run for the benefit of the teacher unions, dedicated to the notions that we are never spending enough money, that class size must be small (meaning more dues-paying union members), and that parents should defer to “professionals” in curriculum and other decisions affecting the classroom. It is enough to give many thoughtful observers genuine worries.

But occasionally, the genius of the American political system comes through with a winner in public education. Local control and federalism allow a certain degree of experimentation, and the unions and educrats sometimes fail to extinguish positive innovations. Such an example seems to be flourishing in Reno, Nevada.

According to this article in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, a philanthropic couple has provided the energy and money to establish a new school for extraordinarily gifted children within a public school system, and so far it seems to be working well.

Jan and Bob Davidson donated $15 million last year to create the Davidson Academy of Nevada, a one-of-a-kind public school for “profoundly gifted” children. The Davidsons have long championed the idea that our educational system should do as much to push gifted students ahead as guarantee that those with the least ability don’t get left behind.


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