We have a handful of kids at my school that have been identified as GATE. (gifted and talented) Most of our GATE identified kids don't go to the GATE schools in our district though. Why? The parents don't send their kids to the program. The district I work in doesn't, in my opinion, do enough to promote the program to the Latino parents in Spanish. They also don't promote it at our site. Many of our parents don't speak English, or speak it well enough to understand it in an academic setting. They also are not very mobile so having something out of walking distance won't fly.
This year my daughter is in the GATE class at the school next to mine, the school where our GATE identified kids should go. There are at least 4 other kids at my school, in her grade, who should be there with her but they aren't. Two of them are former students of mine. I contacted these parents personally to ask them to send their children to the GATE program. I tried to explain the benefits of the program to them but they were worried that there would be no teachers at the other school who could speak to them, the parents, in Spanish and that it wouldn’t be in walking distance. (The kids would get bused but the parents, understandably, like to be in close proximity to their kids in case of emergency, etc.)
My concern here is that we have this handful of really bright kids who are mixed in with the rest and are not being pushed to the fullest extent of their capabilities. With our current test driven state in education, most teachers are trying their best to make sure that the kids are ready for the test. This means really focusing on the kids who are below grade level. We were in fact told by a workshop presenter, who was there to help us get our scores up, to “not worry about GATE kids. They already have what they need!”
Now I am not saying that classroom teachers don’t have a responsibility to their GATE students because we do. We need to work just as hard for them as we do for our lowest students. However, whatever we do for them in our regular classrooms, doesn’t even compare to what they can get from a class comprised of like minded individuals.
Every day that my daughter has been in her new GATE class this year has been just amazing. I just melt inside when I hear the things they are learning, the way they are learning or just the casual conversations that she is having with her friends. What a difference and change. What an opportunity!
When I walk around my school and see the GATE identified kids at my school, I feel so sad. I wish that they too could have the same opportunities that my daughter has.