Gifted And Talented Education: Not!

I saw this definition of GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) on a district website:
GATE provides integrated services during the regular school day, in the classroom (not outside, in extra classes, after-school, or "more of the same"). This includes differentiated instruction (more advanced/challenging tasks in student-specific areas, for part of the time; more on this next time) and peer grouping opportunities (by topic, not as a rule).
I wonder if the parents realize that "differentiated instruction" and "peer groupings" are not an extra that gifted kids get. It is the norm in all classrooms because kids are at different levels, necessitating differentiation. Also, the differentiation is usually used to bring low kids up to grade level, not to extend the knowledge of those who are already at or above grade level.

NCLB throws 2 sets of students under the bus: The lowest kids get thrown under in favor of the low kids because we can get low kids up to proficient easier than the lowest of the low. We also throw the brightest under the bus because they don't need anything extra to score well on the state test, so why bother enriching them.

This is a common complaint I hear from teachers and parents of gifted students. I have always tried to challenge my gifted students by offering different homework as well as differentiated instruction. But, my hands are a bit tied due to the fact that I, yes I, am the one who provides GATE instruction. I don't see any of the money allotted for GATE. I don't see any GATE program because it doesn't exist. Indeed, calling GATE enrichment "differentiated instruction" and "peer grouping" is dishonest, as there is differentiated instruction and peer grouping already; it is a standard teaching practice. Any teacher worth his or her salt (salt used to be used as money. We may be heading back to that system!) already differentiates instruction. How the hell else are you going to teach the disparate group inhabiting your classroom each day?

People, parents: Get details. Don't settle for some term you are not sure of. Demand an in depth explanation. Ask how the program works (remember, there is no program, so the answer to this question would be very illuminating). Ask for the plans and costs and materials that are exclusive to GATE (there are none, so again, the answer will be interesting).

Public schools are run by citizens. Get on it!

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