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Posted on June 15 at 4:01 p.m.
I must agree with Dr. Noel, and many of you who comment here.
When I started teaching at Santa Barbara High School, all students were grouped by "ability." (It boiled down to "achievement" which is very different from actual ability). That does not negate the needs of a careful educator to work with ability as relates to achievement, and work hard.
There were underachievers and overachievers (labels used then, but have a thread of accuracy, simplistic as it sounds).
Political Correctness came down from on high, and heterogeneous grouping became the catch word. As a maverick teacher I tended to ignore the assumption that I could treat all the students the same.
They are not the same. Human beings don't clone. It may be hard work finding the road to individual differences in a mainstreamed class, but it can be and should be done.
Soon, in those years, it became evident that the needs of the high achievers could not be met adequately in the heterogeneous classroom, and GATE came to Santa Barbara. And rightly so. Done well (and the Santa Barbara School District has excellent teachers and administrators to accomplish this) high achievers can fulfill their potential and beyond.
If youngsters, regardless of race, creed, color, ancestry can do the same, more power to them. At the same time, artificially mingling them with high achievers to address the fantasy of "equality" is nonsense and destructive to the learning process.
NO one is "equal" to another... thank goodness. “Equal Opportunity” must be defined more concretely and both words used in all cases. Put simply, if you’ve got it, use it, and more, be allowed to use it, be encouraged to use it, be taught to use it.
But first, you have to have it, demonstrably. What’s “it”? Ability. Achieve to ability at the least; beyond at the best. And this has nothing to do with ancestry, mixed in all probability, in us all.
Teachers better not fool themselves with any other irrelevant factors. Academic success is our job -- not trying to create our personal ideas as a paradigm of a societal framework.
At the same time, Brains are color-blind; be accurate in assessing them. Personality and Character probably are results of experience, opinion, and, yes, possible prejudice. Teachers must be qualified to deal with those aspects appropriately and not just with their students, but with any and all who affect the young people they work with.
Give the kids who work well in GATES what they are there for and need. PC doesn’t hack it. At the same time, when a group of similar ancestry students do remarkably better, get next to the fact that it isn’t just genes. It is their culture that just might emphasize qualities we don’t pay enough attention to here in America.
Perhaps we might take a look at that factor.
On GATE to Honors: A Postscript