“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Thursday, March 25

Lowest Common Denominator

This week in the public school my children attend, we've received an announcement. They're cutting the TAG program. If you're not familiar with TAG, it stands for Talented And Gifted. It's a program designed to challenge the kids who find public school far too easy.

When I was in elementary school, my mother was instrumental in starting such a program. I was a bright kid, but found school boring because all the work was honestly just too easy for me. They considered kicking me into the next grade, but during the 70's (and through 'til now) this is considered a bad move. It takes the kid away from friends and peers his/her own age. Because I was so bored, I drove my poor teachers crazy. I was constantly getting into trouble because I literally didn't have enough to do, and what I did have was no challenge. So they instituted a program like TAG for me and other children with similar issues. I know my teachers breathed a lot easier.

My own son has had a similar experience in elementary school. They won't allow anyone below 3th grade into the TAG program there. As a result, he was bored to tears his first 3 years and constantly in trouble. Now that he's in 4th grade, he's getting straight A's, and gets consistently good marks for behavior -- Thanks to TAG. He is getting a good education and is being challenged, not only with extra work, but with interesting activities that someone with his intellect requires.

My wife tells me that Knox County plans on cutting this program due to financial issues. OK, I understand that there's cutbacks all around. I get it. But this program is really important.

All I hear these days from schools is the drive to leave no child behind. That's fine for the kids on the lower part of the scale, but what about the kids on the upper end? Is it ok to let them suffer because all our focus is just getting better test scores on average? That seems to be the message our government and schools are preaching.

I'll tell you this much: If this continues, they'll have one less (or 3 less) kids to worry about. I'll put them in private school or home school them before I let them suffer a poorer education in the name of the lowest common denominator.