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Feb. 22, 2011

SMOB Alan Xie visits Blair

by Mandy Xu, News and Entertainment editor
Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) Alan Xie spoke with members of Blair's Students for Global Responsibility (SGR) about the Gifted and Talented (GT) label Today. SGR is working with the countywide organization Montgomery County Education Forum (MCEF) to remove the GT label in elementary schools across the county.

Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) Alan Xie met with Blair's SGR after school today. Tolu Omokehinde
Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) Alan Xie met with Blair's SGR after school today.
According to SGR sponsor George Vlasits, the club is currently working to inform Blazers about how the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system begins separating students in second grade. After seven-year-olds take a test, they are sorted into the GT track or the non-GT track. "The [non-GT] kids get very little opportunities," Vlasits said. "They would like to try more challenging material but those things won't fly." According to Vlasits, due to a discrepancy in teacher expectations, it is hard for students not on the GT track to get into magnet middle schools or magnet high schools. "If [non-GT] are constantly told they cannot perform as well as GT kids, they will eventually believe it," he said. "It gets back to what we do early on."

Xie advocated removing the label in addition to a general education reform. He felt that non-GT students are not pushed to try their hardest, like GT children are. Xie believes this is the wrong attitude for educators. "We let all the kids on the bottom slide as long as the top performing kids are doing well," he said.

As a result of tracking children, Xie felt that students become segregated. "[The GT kids] end up going to better schools because they were conditioned to," he said. "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end, it looks like the [school system] was right all along."

Junior Elizabeth Brown, who worked with SGR, felt the answer was to make on-level classes more challenging, rather than make rigorous courses easier. "The answer is not to take opportunities from everyone," she said.

Junior Shayna Solomon shares the same sentiment and hopes that higher-level education will change in the future. "What we have right now is a bunch of regular classes that are really bad," she said. "We have to make it less deplorable to put kids in [an on level class]."

The Board of Education will discuss removing the GT label in elementary schools in their upcoming monthly meetings on Feb. 28 and March 28.

For more information, visit the MCEF website here.

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  • John Lincoln (View Email) on February 23, 2011 at 8:59 AM
    ya but he asian tho
  • man on February 24, 2011 at 12:09 AM
    i personally loved the GT label. it made me feel good that i was better than the average student. The modern world is a little too nice in my opinion. the bottom line is that there will always be kids below average and above average regardless of what label you give them. Its not so much the label but the environment they get surrounded in. There is a culture that goes along with being associated completely with on-level classes. These are the kids that have disciplinary issues, attendance problems, and worse. There will always be kids like this even if they take away tracking.
    • KirstitheCrazySGRkid (View Email) on March 2, 2011 at 9:05 PM
      yes, its true that there will always be kids who don't do what they're supposed to in school. However, you would be surprised how many times, with in those onlevel classes there are many students who do want to do their work, and do want to be challenged. Sure, the kids who aren't on their game do disrupt everyone, but that is not a problem we can solve. The purpose of what we're doing is to make sure that the kids who are in onlevel classes and want to learn and want to be challenged can be provided a class in which this can happen. Although there will always be higher level classes and lower level classes, we just want to make sure that all students are given as much equal oppourtunity as possible in Montgomery county to help them build a successful career doing whatever it is they choose to do after graduation--weither it be rocket science or manual labor. Then, weither or not they choose to take advantage of these oppourtunities is up to them. We are NOT however trying to take away oppourtunities for highly acheiving students, because we want to see them succede to the best of their abilities as well.
  • hojn q public on February 24, 2011 at 12:11 AM
    tru dat but least he ain no troll
  • you do know (View Email) on February 24, 2011 at 7:08 PM
    ...that Alan is here, all the freaking time. You guys make it sound like an once-in-a-lifetime thing xD
  • Alan (View Email) on February 26, 2011 at 1:59 PM
    It's important that our kids learn at the levels they're suited to. Having gone through GT myself, I can say it made learning exciting and challenging. It's not the programs but the label that may be creating a problem.

    Something interesting to note is the idea of a "self-fulfilling prophecy". In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, he talks about athletes. When you divide children into sports leagues, it's by age. Kids who are older (with birthdays near the cut-off date) may be seen as "gifted" athletes because of their physical maturity. So, they get extra opportunities or playing time. These extra opportunities might actually allow them to become more successful.

    If you look at sports like soccer or hockey, there's a lot of professional athletes who have birthdays all near the cut-off date. So the question is: were these athletes inherently gifted, or were they just given more opportunities when they were younger?

    And yeah, I come to Blair once or twice a month, mostly because of Youth & Government meetings (with Swaney/Grossman).
  • mimi walker (View Email) on April 12, 2011 at 8:48 PM
  • not-allowed-to-put-that-on-the-internet (View Email) on April 12, 2011 at 9:00 PM
    i am a magnet kid and i find that it gives no segregation from the title. most kids don't even realize that there is a magnet at their school. i for one don't even remember if i made gt because that was in second grade. i don't think that titles really affect any one but magnet kids egos. also it nice to be able to brag when kids make fun of you for being a nerd...
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