There is a recent discussion going on in Merrimack that should concern the entire state. The school board is considering doing away with their early admission program for first grade. I will not get into the merit of starting kids early or not as that should ultimately be a choice for the parents (assuming their child can pass the qualifications) and as a parent who is currently having my own choice tested for consideration this year I’ve read a number of arguments from either side. Instead I ask a question, what does public education do for advanced or gifted children?
We currently spend millions every year on special education programs, which in some cases are tailored right down to the individual students needs. IEPs or Individual Education Plans in the case of a special needs student. These are children in many cases will never even be able to function in society. We have grade levels which keep pace for average kids so 1st grade they are expected to read at a certain level, do math at a certain level and so on.
What about kids who are above the level of their grade? Often kids who are advanced become board and end up acting out in classes and are in turn viewed as trouble. The real trouble isn’t the child; it’s our system. We hold back the advanced kids and instead tailor to the average and below. If a child can read a 5th grade level book in first grade and spell on that level do we move them up to 5th grade English? No, we force that child to sit through 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes instead of allowing them to set their own pace.
At least if we have true school choice and competition kids who excel and are capable of doing working above their “grade level” would be able to be placed into schools tailored to meet their needs. Their parents would feel they have some choice.
So unless you’re rich enough to afford private school tuition, which most average income families can’t, or unless you have a parent who can stay home and home school the children parents are left with no choices. Is this the direction our state wants to go? Holding back the top level in favor of the average and below? Based on everything I've seen from the state level right down to the town with the continued push for cookie cutter education systems I'd guess yes.