Friday, January 29, 2010

UK Pulls the Plug on National GT Program

Back during his time in power, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had an ambition: to get more middle class families to stay in the UK's state schools. One way to do that, he decided, was to increase programming for gifted students. The result, a national academy for gifted students, was launched in 2002. This program provided summer classes, trained teachers, and otherwise tried to bring the needs of gifted learners into the forefront of education.

Now it appears, according to this article in the Telegraph, that the program's 20 million-pound budget will be redirected mostly to achieving more "social mobility," whatever that means. Any national funding for gifted kids will be directed mostly at those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now, I understand that budgets are tight everywhere, and there is nothing wrong with helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds. But it is absolutely ludicrous that this is set in contrast with gifted funding, with the idea being that any gifted funding is taking away money from students who deserve it more. 20 million pounds is a small drop in the UK's education budget. The country could probably find that kind of money by reminding everyone to turn off the lights a bit more frequently, or using cheaper toilet paper.

Instead, this is purely a philosophical stand made by educrats who are obsessed with "equity" to the exclusion of all else, and really hate the idea that some kids are brighter than others. If you can't remove that reality, then you try to at least ignore the bright kids and trust they'll do all right. It's a short-sighted philosophy, but it's incredibly widespread for reasons I don't understand. What is it about going into education that makes people dislike gifted kids?


The Princess Mom said...

Part of it is that this is the UK we're talking about. They have a cultural mindset that any "elites" need to be brought down a peg or two.

"Middle class" also means something different there. I just heard on the radio the other day that 90% of Americans consider themselves middle class, which sounds about right culturally, if not mathematically. In the UK, "middle class" equates with what we consider upper class--wealthy, educated, coming from money. No wonder the children of such people don't deserve any breaks.

SwitchedOnMom said...

but it's incredibly widespread for reasons I don't understand. What is it about going into education that makes people dislike gifted kids?

Geez, I wish I knew. Really. My theory is that many go into teaching because they themselves struggled in school and thus are all about "helping."

But IMHO a crazy, warped understanding of "equity" has taken hold of the educracy. Check my latest post:

where overkill standardized test preparation for highly gifted kids is defended thus: "Offering this preparation opportunity for some students and not for all conflicts with our philosophy that we are one school that provides equitable opportunities for all students."