Government Watch / Politics

Dems’ Attack On Smart Kids


Parents whose kids excel in school need to be on guard. Leftist school administrators across the country — not just in New York City — are banning gifted programs in elementary and middle school and Advanced Placement courses in high school. 

Typically, without any notice to parents, an eighth grader’s accelerated science class or a fifth grader’s fast-track math class is merged into the regular classroom. Top students lose out. They need accelerated programs every bit as much as children with learning challenges need special education. It’s discrimination.

The left is seizing on a newly published study of Ohio students from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute to call for banning gifted programs. The study, “Ohio’s Lost Einsteins,” looks at what became of second and third-grade students who were identified as high performers. By eighth grade, only 30% of Black students, 39% of Hispanic students, and 34% of economically disadvantaged students in the group were still outstanding performers. Most had floundered.

Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews misreads the findings to argue that gifted programs are unproven and probably a waste of money. But many of the Ohio students labeled as high achievers were never placed in a “gifted” program. Fordham’s experts actually recommend more students be tracked into gifted programs.

The study also underscores the importance of helping gifted children early on overcome barriers to success. They may lack a place to study and, most importantly, an involved parent. Some parents don’t insist their children do their homework, concentrate in class, and aim for AP classes. These parents need guidance on buying into the educational achievement culture.

Instead, school administrators are scapegoating gifted kids for the sake of equity. Boston suspended enrollment in its Advanced Work Classes program for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, citing the fact that the school district is 80% Black and Hispanic, but AWC enrollment is 70% white and Asian.

The rhetoric attacking gifted programs is vicious and divisive. The Hechinger Report, based at Columbia University’s Teachers College, claims “gifted education has racism in its roots,” arguing that the scientist who popularized IQ measurement was a eugenicist.

California proposes eliminating accelerated math before the eleventh grade and requiring all students to study math together. “We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” the state’s math plan declares. That’s like declaring that all students can play on the varsity football team. Ridiculous.

Educators are peddling a false claim that students of mixed abilities learn better together. A website addressed to school administrators deplores tracking as “segregation” and announces, “It’s good for students to be in classrooms where there’s a robust exchange of perspectives; perspectives that are shaped by racial, ethnic and economic identities.” Maybe in homeroom or social studies, but not physics. Gifted children in slow classes grow bored and even drop out.

Leftist educators are also targeting AP high school classes. But a study by the left-leaning Center for American Progress shows that students who succeed in AP classes have higher grades in college and are more likely to graduate. Eliminating them would be a mistake. 

Fewer Black students enroll in AP, and those who do are less likely to pass the AP exams. Approximately 69% of Asians, 65% of whites, and 46% of Hispanics who take AP tests pass, but only 28% of Blacks pass. The country should be deeply concerned, but the solution is to better prepare disadvantaged kids.

The equity warriors are also attacking the nation’s 165 competitive public high schools. From Boston to Alexandria, Virginia, and San Francisco, they’re eliminating entrance exams and allocating seats by lottery or zip code. 

Georgetown University’s Anthony Carnevale calls it “a direct populist rebellion.” Don’t buy it. The real populism is parents rising up to resist dumbing down their children’s education. These parents, including Asian American immigrants, know their best shot at the American dream is to have their children succeed in a highly competitive public school. No one should take that away.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.


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Aine Coleman
11 months ago

Gifted and talented school children have to be stopped since they show up those that don’t try as hard.

11 months ago

The commies are ruining our kids. LAY OFF and let the parents take care of them. Just another ploy to make the USA reach the bottom. Burn in hell Dems!

11 months ago

You can’t make the dumb ones smarter, but you can handicap the smart ones. This is what “equity” looks like in the small minds of liberals.

Mike B.
11 months ago

Everyone knows it all boils down to parenting. Why are people so afraid to tell the truth ? We’re not racists because our children ( NO MATTER THEIR SKIN COLOR) excel in school ! It’s because parents are involved with their child’s education! Everyday it’s something in the headlines ! This administration is making people racist for God’s sake! Who do they think voted Obama into office for 2 terms ? Stop the b.s. !!! This administration is taking the wrong path. God help us .

Mike Ecko
11 months ago

I imagine that just about every psychologist would tell us there’s no difference in intelligence between the races. So what accounts for the low percentage of black students passing the AP tests. Cultural antipathy towards education? Lack of parental involvement? Wait, I know. It’s racism.

11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Ecko

Look back at the test scores given to all students nation-wide before LBJ’s so called War on Poverty programs. The differential in achievement scoring between white and black students was only in the single digits, which is statistically a non-issue given the size of sampling done. Today the differential in urban cities is 20 percent or better. The welfare and social programs the Democrats wheeled out destroyed the black middle class in most urban areas across the country. The idea of “You’re a victim and you can’t achieve anything without constant assistance from an array of government programs” was pounded non-stop. The idea of reinforcing low expectations became a self fulfilling reality. That destroyed the motivation to succeed and lead to single parent households being the norm instead of the exception. Another example of Democrat policies being enacted to accomplish the direct opposite (intentionally) of what the Democrats claimed they would do.

Philip Hammersley
11 months ago

The Marxist answer to everything when they cry for “equality” is to bring the best DOWN to the lowest common denominator. They should be trying to raise the poor up but then they wouldn’t be docile sheep any more!

R.J. from Arizona
11 months ago

And you wonder why the country is going to hell in a handbasket?

anna hubert
11 months ago

Everybody is a winner,gets a medal and praise.Equality matters ability not so much

James Thompson
11 months ago

It started with Bush. No child left behind. Now they leave everyone behind.

11 months ago

The ideal society for socialism to thrive is one where the general population is as ignorant and easily manipulated as possible. That way, they have few, if any, opportunities to advance themselves and become dependent on the largess of the government for everything from housing to food to their basic existence.

NYC schools have, in general, produced sub par and outright illiterate graduates for years and years. It only makes sense that in the last few months of de Blasio’s administration, a self admitted Marxist by the way that he has publicly boasted about, that he terminate one of the few remaining areas of opportunity for those children that possess an above average aptitude for learning. That way they will be consigned to being just another useful idiot in the promotion of socialist ideals.

11 months ago

How does lowering standards for everyone, help anyone? Every body getting a trophy kills the incentive for excellence. Even fully communist countries: Russia, China, N. Korea, etc, recognize and reward excellence. Dumbing down everyone so a few will feel better about themselves will be a disaster. Gifted and talented students will stop trying, what a waste.

Stephen Russell
11 months ago

See Dems are Anti Ed for your kids unless for Indoc only

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