The state of being “gifted” covers many bounds. To some children they are (with the effort to make it not sound derogatory, as it is not intended as such) anomalies. These children unfortunately a school system cannot account for, the so-called prodigies whose intellect is so high they are beyond the system. The ones however that likely suffer most are the gifted non-prodigy types. Those whose intellect remains 1/2 a step beyond those surrounding them instead of a full step. They are a large enough cross section to really be considered, however they are the ones often left hung out to dry. The no child left behind policy sounds good, but what it is in point of fact is an attempt to make everyone equal. The world is not made that way. An intellectual giant may not have the same advantages of an athletic powerhouse, but different ones will present themselves. Essentially they are removing those advantages from the intellectual student. Early school is the worst manifestation of this (the hyper-college driven class atmosphere of high school accounts for the very intelligent well, and the average student, but fails in the middle ground of slightly gifted, if that be a term). The advanced class system doesn’t spread within younger grades in the form it used to (the GATE programs were mostly dissolved in an effort to disseminate the intelligent students and less then stellar together).
Programs now exist on the principles that the more talented students will help give ‘bring up’ the slow learners. This is faulty on many levels. The first being that the gifted students are just that, students, they are not teachers and should not be expected to devote their school time to teaching others, this is time that could be spent on additional learning to themselves. Second, that the students would even attempt to teach. Often they will simply grow tired of waiting and give the slower students the answers. This simply widens the gap, the slower students do not learn the process as it is given to them, their foundation is undercut which will progress through all levels. The final is that in trying to cater to all groups, teachers inevitably go to fast for some, too slow for others, meaning only a portion of the students are learning at proper pace. So many laws and plans for schools are about leveling the playing field under the guise of “providing the same opportunities to everyone,” a nice thought, but practical application states that we were not all created equal. Being an average middle class joe who has not tasted too much of the lesser end I know it makes it sound arrogant or pompous, but as the old rules of play go “we need ditch diggers and farm workers just the same as astrophysicists.” The rise and complaint of the manual labor division and rising costs and farming of work overseas etc. is because of cost-effectiveness. The equalization in opportunity means to many people feel above certain forms of work, and are below certain other forms (i.e. refuse to flip burgers, but we also have a certain lack of scientists from America nowadays, watch any learning program and the bulk will be Indian, Eastern European (German heavily) and Asian. This is not a strike against those countries but rather a rallying call. Americans are viewed as lazy because of equal opportunity. It states that mediocrity is the goal. Not to be too good, just as long as you aren’t too bad. This ultimately results in the poor becoming poorer, as certain jobs become farmed out because of it, and no citizen living in normal society can afford to live with the type of pay that those jobs can pay immigrants or workers in overseas plants. The mediocrity of lessons doesn’t put everyone in the middle, instead it ultimately spreads the gap between the top and bottom.