Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Sunday, June 24, 2018 12:23 pm
March 1, 2011

SGR testifies against GT label

by Sebastian Medina-Tayac, Editor-in-Chief
On behalf of Blair's Students for Global Responsibility (SGR), SGR President senior Kirstyn Ross gave a testimony at a public Board of Education (BOE) meeting in Rockville yesterday against Montgomery Count Public Schools’ (MCPS) practice of tracking students using the Gifted and Talented (GT) program label.

On Feb. 28, Blair's SGR President spoke out against the GT label in Montgomery County.  Here, Ross speaks about the same issue at an SGR meeting with Student Member of the Board Alan Xie. Tolu Omokehinde
On Feb. 28, Blair's SGR President spoke out against the GT label in Montgomery County. Here, Ross speaks about the same issue at an SGR meeting with Student Member of the Board Alan Xie.
Ross gave a two-minute anecdotal testimony to the BOE, including President Christopher Barclay and MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast. About 100 onlookers, representing several other causes addressed at the meeting such as the Wheaton Edison debate, attended the meeting.

Ross was accompanied by members of the “No Labels, No Limits!” organization including SGR sponsor George Vlasits, Eastern Middle School parent Nora Cartman, and Walt Whitman High School counselor Jenny Higgins.

Cartman and Higgins gave testimonies based on their children’s and students’ negative experiences with the label. According to Vlasits, a diverse group of "No Labels" advocates have given testimony at similar meetings. “We’re trying to show the Board a broad-based support for removing the GT label,” he said.

Ross’s testimony told of the causes of her not entering the GT program, as well as the consequences of this for her educational career. “I was reading five grade levels ahead, and doing Algebra I and was working on a book of poetry (yes, at age 10),” she said. However, when it came time for her to take the global GT screening test, she performed “inconsistently,” which she now attributes to her then undiagnosed and untreated Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Ross believed it was especially important to voice her personal experience with the GT label to the Board directly. “Sometimes, adults are disconnected,” she said, “we’re there every day; when there are flaws in the system, it affects us. When students, like me, give testimony, it brings them closer to the issue.”

Superintendent Jerry Weast closed the meeting by congratulating Montgomery Blair High School for its recent acceptance of the Maryland Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) award.

The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) met on Feb. 28 to discuss the Gifted and Talented label, among other things. Courtesy of MCPS
The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) met on Feb. 28 to discuss the Gifted and Talented label, among other things.
According to Vlasits, SGR has been working toward removing the GT label for over a year now and attending these meetings in order to put the issue up for consideration for a vote by the board. Vlasits believes the best way to achieve this vote is through constant and gradual pressure on the BOE from the SGR and a variety of other sources. “With the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Impact Silver Spring, the Parent Teachers Association (PTSA), and others, we’re creating a large community organization to pressure the BOE to do something they already want to do,” he says. Vlastits speculates that the majority BOE already supports removing the GT label.

Preceding the meeting, the SGR organized several events to raise awareness of the problems of the GT label, including a discussion with Alan Xie, Student Memeber of the Board of Education (SMOB) as well as an event in conjunction with Blair’s Diversity Workshop. At the meeting, Xie expressed his support for the removal of the label as well.

Ross was surprised to see the diverse groups that attended these events, which included a range of Advanced Placement-level to on-level students. “With the Diversity Workshop event, we were able to reach out to a variety of students,” she said.

The SGR intends to keep pressuring the BOE though, according to Vlasits. At the next public meeting, on Mar. 28, he hopes to organize a much larger group of Blair students and teachers to show support or testify.

Share on Tumblr

Discuss this Article

Silver Chips Online invites you to share your thoughts about this article. Please use this forum to further discussion of the story topic and refrain from personal attacks and offensive language. SCO reserves the right to deny any comment. No comments that include hyperlinks will be posted. If you have a question for us, please include your email address or use this form.

  • alumnae3 on March 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM
    If the GT labels are taken away, what will the tougher english and history courses be classified as? Also remember colleges look for the GT or Honors label.
  • KG on March 4, 2011 at 6:20 PM
    This young woman is precisely the type of gifted learner who should have been identified and receiving gifted services. Her testimony, however, hurts students like herself who have different learning needs that cannot be addressed by standard curriculum. Labels are not the issue, all students deserve to learn something new each day, including those who are intellectually gifted and twice exceptional. Identification practices seem to be the problem then in this county.
  • former alum (View Email) on March 4, 2011 at 8:12 PM
    It sounds like people are complaining because they didn't get the scores to enter the GT program. First of all, no one cares if you can read five grades above your grade level if you can't show proficiency. Second, do you know how many kids in the magnet program are both diagnosed and not yet diagnosed for ADD? ADD is no excuse. Lastly, "No labels, no limits"? Not being labeled magnet, GT, IB, CAP doesn't change anything. As a "normal" student at Blair, I took advantage of many of the courses available through the magnet program. We have labels for a reason. It identifies students who have proven themselves to be proficient. Stop complaining.

    P.S. The reporter did not directly mention one of the problems of the GT label. Bias?
    • Alumnus on March 7, 2011 at 2:31 AM
      Everything this guy said is spot-on. "No labels, no limits" is laughable - "no labels, no opportunities" is more like it. The simple fact is (though people are loth to admit it) that some students are more capable than others. The system we have for identifying these students may not be perfect, sure, but to suggest removing the system and lumping all students together as a solution is really, really dumb. It cheapens the experience for all involved, as the more gifted students are held back while those less so find it hard to keep up. If anything, the county doesn't do *enough* separation when it comes to academic aptitude.

      And, as has been already mentioned, students without the "labels" are still able to take a large number of courses offered for those with, if they ask and the teacher agrees. This, ultimately, is perfectly reasonable and, indeed, the way the system should work - the final say should always be with the teacher, who is in the best position to determine whether or not a student is capable of keeping up with the material in an advanced course.
  • '10 on March 7, 2011 at 4:12 AM
    Y'kno, I probably should be diagnosed with ADD. Despite that, I was able to get labeled as GT and then magnet anyway. Why? Because I worked hard so that I could earn that label. And besides, at Blair specifically, just because you don't have a magnet/CAP label doesn't mean you can't take magnet/CAP courses. And AP and honors courses are also open to pretty much anyone willing to put in the work.

    Besides, why did this article focus so much on Ross and her efforts, and not on the problems with the GT label itself? This article had potential to be an informative, objective read but instead simply seems like a shameless plug for one specific person.
  • Mark Cohen (View Email) on March 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM
    I find the GT label offensive as it implies those not so labeled are not gifted and talented. That too is a label and one that is educationally counter-productive. That said, it is a disservice to all students to teach to some golden mean that bores more accelerated students and fails to reach those who fall below the academic mean. Students should be taught at the level that engages and advances them. GT is an awful label but the rationale supporting it is sound.
  • magnet on March 25, 2011 at 9:32 PM
    ok, so i guess i have bias because i'm a magnet
    but if you ever walked into a magnet classroom, more than half the class has ADD, and some of the cases are extremely severe.
    i just think that's not an excuse to say that you didn't get to magnet.
    there should be classes for each skill level.
    if you are smarter than others, you should be able to exercise your skills more.
    some kids just are naturally more talented than others in a certain area, and if they could sleep through an easy class, why not give them the challenge of a harder one?
  • Melissa on April 4, 2011 at 9:12 PM
    The problem for Ross was not the labeling of children as GT or not but her mis-labeling. Would things have been any different for her if MoCo didn't have tracking? No, she still would have been in an environment that didn't challenge the exceptional student
Jump to first comment