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Passions in Poetry

Does the school education system hold-back the truly gifted? Discuss

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idleeyes86
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0 posted 06-18-2003 01:13 PM       View Profile for idleeyes86   Email idleeyes86   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for idleeyes86

The last genius ever to grace our green world died 18 April 1955 aged 76, named Albert Einstein. Since then there has been a creative vacuum which has lasted longer then anything since the Dark Ages.

Some of you will put this down to the fact there is nothing much left to discover, rubbish discoveries of computers, telephones, satelites have been made since, put they've been discovered by men (and women) who's whole life has been geared to that one speciality. Equally art has become a desperate attempt to find an original idea, music has become computer generated and lazy, literature hasn't seen the likes of Shakespeare, Poe, Byron and the like since the death of Lord Tennyson. A whole age of film has not seen a true deity (possibly a few unknowns.) Surely all these fields couldn't dry up as a result of an exhaustion of ideas. I refuse to believe we are getting stupider or lazier.

The fact is there is a distinct relationship between the lack of true geniuses and the introduction of compulsary schooling. Most of the major discoverers and great men in history reached new peaks as a result of teaching themselves, or working as apprentices. Nowadays the schools churn out pupil after pupil who can speak eloquently on a wide variety of subjects, but will never do anything great. Meanwhile truly gifted children get stifled as they are unable to learn in the way they want, and instead get tied down by a set curriculam. As a result they lose their interest in knowledge and concentrate more on obtaining good grades, going to a good university, and making money.

I've made this long enough so I will leave it there for you to discuss. I would be interested to see any views that teachers might have, how do you nurture one person's talent, without neglecting the less able in the class?
jbouder
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1 posted 06-18-2003 02:10 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

I disagree with your premise (I don't believe we are experiencing a shortage of geniuses) but don't have much time. I can say for now that, in Pennsylvania, the PA Code requires school districts to provide challenging academic work to children who are gifted.  If the district fails to do this, a parent has the right to request an administrative hearing called a Due Process Hearing.  In doing so, parents have forced districts to reimburse parents for private school tuition, have forced districts to provide challenging academic material to their kids, and have been awarded compensatory education damages.

Protections are there for our kids, but the children who end up doing best are those with involved parents who are knowledgeable of their children's rights and tenacious enough to secure those rights when necessary. Other states probably have similar laws.

http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/022/chapter16/022_0016.pdf

Jim
idleeyes86
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2 posted 06-18-2003 02:51 PM       View Profile for idleeyes86   Email idleeyes86   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for idleeyes86

Obviously one has to state what you are defining as a genius and I have set very high standards when I've used the term. But the fact that you say "the PA Code requires school districts to provide challenging academic work to children who are gifted" proves my point. It means that firstly the children have no choice but to learn what is placed in front of them, they therefore haven't the chance to pursue what they want to learn. I must admit I am not familiar with the American system and can only truly judge an english system which is based on "The National Curriculam" and so you may have very good reason to disagree with me.

However I feel that nowadays (I'm 17 by the way so this isn't just a griping "in my day" comment) it is so important to get qualifications, so you get a good job, so you make money and that drives you to learn the things that will gain you those qualifications and that job, rather than learning new things and gaining new ideas about the world.

Everybody hurts, take comfort in your friends, cos everybody hurts sometimes

(r.e.m)

jbouder
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3 posted 06-18-2003 02:57 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

That's not exactly how the process works here.  Once a child is identified as gifted, or identified with a disability for that matter, the law requires that their education be specifically tailored to their individual needs.  If the school district doesn't do this, they are out of compliance with the law and will pay the price if someone calls them on it.

Just out of curiosity, how do you define genius?

Jim
Ron
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4 posted 06-18-2003 03:21 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I agree with Jim, that we are far from experiencing a lack of genius in the world. Nor do I think you're necessarily setting the bar too high. Einstein had a unique and wonderful way of looking at things, but mostly he was just in the right place at the right time. Had he not documented relativity when he did, someone else would have published that same year. The questions being raised at the turn of that century demanded answers that, in retrospect, were fairly obvious. Many of Einstein's contemporaries were equally gifted, as are many of today's scientists (like Stephen Hawking). The last REAL genius of science died over five hundred years ago.

If there is a perceived lack of genius in the world, I suspect it is really just a lack of mystique. Communications since 1950 have turned our romantic notion of genius into a much better understanding of the men and women behind the achievements. We see them less as Gods and more as multi-dimensional people. It simply takes much more to impress us, I think, and that's probably a good thing.

As to your real question, I think there are actually two questions, with two very different answers.

Does the education system hold back the gifted? Absolutely. Resources necessitate homogeneity as one price for wide spread education and I seriously doubt that will (or can) ever change. Those who don't fit within a fairly narrow range, whether they be gifted or challenged, will inevitably suffer. As Jim so eloquently said, that's when the parents become the key to unlocking the child's potential. That's no different today than it's been for the past few thousand years.

Does the education system hold back the truly gifted? Nope. In my opinion, NOTHING will hold back the truly gifted. That is part of their gift.
Midnitesun
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5 posted 06-18-2003 04:54 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I was about to mention Hawking, but Ron, you beat me to it.
As for holding people back, schools are the perfect tool for that. While I'm not calling my daughter a genius, she was diagnosed gifted and talented in Kindergarten, but the public schools were not equipped to offer her coursework in what she wanted to study. Four years ago, I pulled her from public school and began the incredible rewarding adventure of homeschooling. She still remains in the top 10% on all national exams, and is currently persuing her independent studies in equine behavioral sciences and art.
I don't believe public schools are well equipped to foster individuality or promote independent thinking, and even the GATE and Special Ed programs fall short of their intended goals.
Anyway, I think the primary goal of public education is to produce a well-behaved law-abiding citizenry, not geniuses.
As Ron said, true geniuses will find a way to go beyond the norm no matter what obstacles are put if front of them.
Brad
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6 posted 06-18-2003 09:10 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
literature hasn't seen the likes of Shakespeare, Poe, Byron and the like since the death of Lord Tennyson.


This is absurd. Tennyson died in 1892. Are you really willing to write off Yeats, Thomas, Joyce, Pound, Eliot, Auden, Stephens, Crane, Stein, Pynchon, Ashbery, Marquez, Calvino, Soseki, Elison, Rushdi, Hesse, Morrison, and countless others in order to defend a rather untenable thesis.

We don't have less geniuses, we have more than any other time in history.

Now that may be the problem.
Ringo
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7 posted 06-18-2003 09:36 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

You have a few things that need to be adressed (in my opinion, anyhow).
You mentioned that everyone specializes these days, thus no geniuses (If I misquote you, then I apologize). Einstein specialized in the sciences. Yet you specifically mentioned him. The difference is? Edison specislaized in engineering (electrical and mechanical). Same question.
You also mentioned a few poets, and said that there was no one in that class since Tennyson. By making the statement that you did, you discredit such poets as Maya Angelou, Sandburg, Frost, and Whitman. Although I do not really enjoy Ms. Angelou's poetry ,I can accept her extreme talent, and would easily put her in the category of those you mentioned. As for Prose, I would add such names as O. Henry, and Hemingway.
"Music has become computer-generated and lazy..." OH, PLEASE. By making such a statement, you are insulting all musicians who actually work at learning and perfecting their instruments. There are many groups and musicians that write music that is more than the three chord wonder (although, the name Bob Dylan comes to mind in that vein), and requires vast amounts of technical proficiency to perform. If you would listen to everything BEYOND the top 40, you would have seen that.
As for the geniuses not existing, they are there... even if we don't hear about them. The way it normally works is that Corporate America hires these men and women and then takes the credit for their ideas. The geniuses are out there, yet they don't get the credit. Perhaps the most intelligent people making the most "genius-like" discoveries are the medical researchers who come up with an earth-shattering technology, or drug, or procedure that changes the course of medical history. It happens all the time, yet we don't care enough for the press to make it worth reporting.
As for the educators: If the teacher is good (and there are too many of them out there) they find ways. An example would be my son. He is very intelligent (tested at 148), and was getting into trouble at school because he was bored. One of his teachers recognized the challenge he was having and along with the other teachers, gave him extra assignments to keep him challenged. They were not done for credit, and he was not penalized for not doing them. They were to keep him interested and challenged. Result? His discipline challenges decreased tremendously (but not totally... he's a kid). Also, as his father, I felt it was my responsibility to keep him active mentally. He and I attempt to find out facts and words and other things that the other doesn't know. Ressult? My son ENJOYS learning what he does not already know, and I, as his parent, am taking responsibility for him, and not leaving it to an over-worked education system.
Anyways, those are my thoughts.


Day after day I'm more confused,
So I look for the light through the pouring rain...

[This message has been edited by Ringo (06-18-2003 09:46 PM).]

Local Rebel
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8 posted 06-19-2003 12:14 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

The world is full of broke geniuses.

Just ask them.  They'll tell you.




I see from your profile idleeyes that you are a kid, and a guitarist, and -- possibly you feel held back.  But that's normal.

I've always thought of myself as a learning disabled genius.  Does that count?

Behold the genius of Hawkings http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/hangar/6929/h_kaku2.html

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (06-19-2003 12:40 AM).]

Tim
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9 posted 06-29-2003 11:38 AM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Once again, I have to wonder what is occuring in the rest of the world compared to the middle of no-where here in Kansas.

I have no idea what the IQ's of my four children are.  I suppose I could find out, I just never thought it that important to ask.
But to say the education system held them back seems a bit of a stretch.  

Three of the four were in gifted programs and the fourth equalled or exceeded the other three in academic performance.  

The opportunities they were afforded in a small town environment in the middle of no-where could not have even been comprehended when I was in school.

It may well be that a great many people think they are a genius or their children are, and if you look at G.P.A.'s, you might suspect that fact.  If someone is truly a genius, then their intellect is not going to be hidden or held back by anyone or anything and they will be educated appropriately if they have the desire to be so educated.  They just done shut down the porn part, but not the rest of the library.

The problem is we all ain't genius material, and if a true genius is held back, it is because they ain't what their parents think they are, or they don't afford themselves to the opportunities available to them.

You would be a bit hard put to convince me that the educational opportunities that exist today are unequalled in the history of man.  

Ron
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10 posted 06-29-2003 12:40 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Unfortunately, Tim, while today's opportunities for education are indeed unsurpassed, today's implemention of education still leaves a great deal to be desired. The geniuses can fend for themselves. I'm far more concerned about the less-than-geniuses that comprise 99 percent of the student body.

From Richard Mitchell :

quote:
The state of American government education is simply not a “problem” that can be solved. It is rather an enormous fact of life, a self-perpetuating institution elaborated from within by principle, not caprice, governed by collective assent, not individual talent. It easily absorbs the shock of every criticism by pretending to “reform” itself, only to transform and dilute whatever it claims to embrace into nothing but more of the same. It easily swallows and digests and incorporates into its substance everything in the world around it, popular fads and fancies just as readily as appropriately diluted new knowledge in genetics or psychology or in any of the disciplines that it will not teach. Whatever there is in our society—fast-food merchandizing, militant homosexualism, disco dancing, supply-side economics, weird religious cultism, futurology through computers, jogging, astrology, est, you name it—will find its analogue in the schools.

Tim
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11 posted 06-29-2003 02:10 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Having four children, I have had the occasion to attend more than my fair share of high school, college and medical school graduations.
I saw thousands, who were joined with millions more across the country, of bright  well educated future leaders of our country.
I don't dispute that they graduated in spite of failings of our educational system.
By the same token, it was that very education system that got them to that point in their educational lives.
My favorite saying is that justice resides not in the letter of the law, but in the spirit of the law.
I might borrow a bit and say that wisdom resides not in the administration of our education system, but in hearts and minds of the classroom teacher.  That is what is imparted to our students despite the inane efforts of the system to prevent that transfer of knowledge.
I know full well the failures of the system, I see them on a daily basis.  
For every failure however, there are a legion of successes.
Look at the number of young people who participate in these forums.  Are they the product of a failed educational system?
I concur with you Ron as far as the problems, but I think we should recognize the positives.
hush
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12 posted 06-29-2003 02:16 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Ron- should culture and education be seperated? Can it be done?

What about people who major in pop culture?

What about schools that use pop culture- movies, music, etc., as educational tools?

School dances?

I don't think your quote recognizes the positives of culturally integrating schools.
Ron
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13 posted 06-29-2003 05:52 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I agree, Tim. But I think recognition needs to be pretty evenly divided between the really good teachers and the serendipity of a child finding that teacher. In my experience, one really great teacher anywhere in grades 6-12 can make all the difference in the world. Those great teachers, however, seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and my trust in the luck of the draw goes only so far.

Last summer, I was lucky enough to spend several weeks with two different groups of 7-8-9 graders, teaching them a little something about the Internet. They covered two different school districts, one small, one fairly large, comprising about ten junior high schools. I met a lot of their regular teachers, both those who had volunteered for the program and those who had not. I met several school administrators. We talked extensively about literacy and things that could be done to better encourage literacy, especially as it relates to poetry and short fiction. I walked away from that two weeks with much more respect and hope for the kids I met than for most of the teachers. Interestingly, several months later, in talking to some staff at WMU, I was told my suggestions would likely have been better received if I had assigned a price tag to them. Grant money is a strong motivator, it seems.

The safety valve in our system, as I see it, is that our children are exposed to something in the neighborhood of two dozen teachers over the course of several years in junior and senior high. All it often takes is for one or two of those teachers to make a real difference during a very impressionable time. That difference, I think, can last a lifetime.

Yes, there are positives, Tim. I just wish there were a few more of them.

Hush, my short quote doesn't do justice to the article in its entirely. The essay is about the many, many attempts to reform a sagging educational system and the difficulty in doing so. Mitchell's point about pop-culture was in reference to the goal of the Commission for Reorganization of Secondary Education to "adjust the ordinary American child to live in American society," a goal Mitchell feels is so nebulous as to be meaningless. How does that pertain to pop-culture? "After more than half a century of preparing children for life," he says, "Our government education system has prepared life for children." In other words, instead of shaping our children to fit into society, our society is inevitably shaped by what we teach our children.

As to your actual questions, no, I don't think culture and education should be separated. On the contrary, school is where kids and young adults should be exposed to far more varied cultures than is possible in any single home. I'll also admit to being a bit of a snob, however, in that I think popular culture is too often geared towards the lowest common denominator and should NOT be the width and breadth of what we teach. At best, pop culture should be, as you suggested, a tool, a starting point.
jbouder
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14 posted 06-30-2003 07:55 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Tim:

I would be curious to know the preportion of inner-city students, learning-disabled, and students with disabilities who were amongst those bright, well-educated future leaders of our country.  Historically, these students have been plagued by low-expectations, whether willfully or not.  Our Secretary of Education calls this prejudice that some children simply cannot learn the "soft-bigotry of low expectations."

Oftentimes the added effort necessary to help these children overcome the strikes already against them is not expended.  For many of these children, the goals of independence and self-sufficiency are not only not achieved, but, in too many instances, are essentially stolen from them for no better reason than that these populations are difficult to teach.

Once we are willing to admit that labeling children unteachable is the bigotry that is is, and to commit our time, effort and resources to providing these children the higher level of instructional support they need, then, and only then, do I believe we can say public education has been a success.

It may be unfair to assign all the blame to public education systems ... parents certainly are, in some cases, equally deserving of blame.  But that is not always the case, and I believe if more public educators recognized the resourcefulness and determination of parents to create positive education experiences for their children, fewer of these at-risk children will fall through the cracks.  Unfortunately, current policy requires these children to fail before a local education agency can be compelled to provide these chidren with the education they need, and too often this is not done unless parents force them to do so.

http://64.224.217.104/hbgmag_online/0203-feat-vista-school.html

How many parents do you know who have risked running up $20K plus in attorney fees to get their children an appropriate elementary school education?  If you look at the above article, you will learn of three.

Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (06-30-2003 07:58 AM).]

Tim
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15 posted 06-30-2003 08:29 AM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Jim, is the system perfect? As indicated, no.
Need to get off to work, but I suppose my initial response is, I wonder how many  special education teachers or para's existed thirty years ago compared to today?

People that would have been institutionalized when I was a child now attend and graduate high school.  Do we need to do a great deal more work, yes.  

Will parents always have to fight for their children? yes.  I guess the bottom line is, of course there are serious problems in our education system, but are they hopeless problems, I think not.

Your article shows that.

[This message has been edited by Tim (06-30-2003 08:31 AM).]

jbouder
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16 posted 06-30-2003 10:00 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Tim:

You ever wonder why they exist?  About 30 years ago, a bunch of "problem parents" in PA secured the rights of their children with disabilities to a public education (all it too back then was a school psychologist's written opinion that a child was unteachable in order to bar children with disabilities from registering for school).

I don't think you believe all is well with public education.  I'm just not sure you are aware how bad things can get when systems focus myopically on procedural compliance with the law at the expense of substantive compliance.  The adversarial process works if parents know enough to use it, but who is going to educate these parents on the rights of their children?  What I would like to see more often in public education is the can-do attitude we see so often in the private sector.  I would also like to see less turf-oriented resistance to good ideas.  Results must become the focus.

Is it too obvious that this is a subject close to my heart?

Gotta run.

Jim
jbouder
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17 posted 06-30-2003 12:14 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

I thought you might find this link interesting:

http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/03-2003/03122003a.html

Here is an exerpt from Sec. Paige's speech:

quote:
Research tells us that teacher expectations vary by gender and ethnicity. For example, evidence suggests that teachers don't expect boys to do as well as girls in reading and that teachers have higher expectations for White children than for African-American or Hispanic children.

The evidence also shows that teachers tend to over-estimate the intelligence of children from middle- and upper-income families. They tend to under-estimate the intelligence of children from lower-income families.

And the research tells us that children internalize those expectations. If expectations are high, then they will thrive. If expectations are low, then they will come to believe they are hopeless causes and surrender to failure.

A recent study at Stanford University showed the incredible power of low expectations to undermine potential. Specifically, the study found that high-achieving African-American students perform worse on tests when they are reminded in subtle ways about derogatory stereotypes.

The study found the same applied to the math scores of high-achieving college women when they were reminded of the myth that females are less capable at math than men.

If a teacher's attitude can undermine even a young adult with a track record of high achievement, just think of the damage that can be done to an impressionable child.

My friend, Hugh Price--president of the National Urban League and himself the object of low expectations in grade school--points out in his book Achievement Matters that a Harvard study found:

"Black students were three times more likely than their white classmates to be identified as mentally retarded; almost twice as likely to be identified as emotionally disturbed; and 1.3 times as likely to be identified with a specific learning disability."

Teachers who believe that certain social groups are slower to learn and react by lowering the bar for performance rob those children of opportunities to grow intellectually and achieve their dreams.

A 2000 study by MetLife produced dramatic evidence about just how deep and wide the chasm between hope and expectation really is in our schools:

60 percent of secondary school students polled said they were "very confident" they'd achieve their goals for the future,
52 of their parents showed the same optimism, but only 19 percent of the teachers believed their students would achieve their dreams.

In other words: 4 out of every 5 students are being taught by a teacher who is pessimistic about their future.

So you can imagine my irritation when a teacher called me up on a talk show once and started down that road of: You just don't understand the kids in my classroom.


Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (06-30-2003 12:15 PM).]

Tim
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18 posted 06-30-2003 10:15 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Jim, yes, it is clearly a subject dear to your heart.  A different issue than how the thread started, but a valid issue just the same.  
I did not, nor do I dispute our educational system has problems.  But again, I look at the progress made and see us heading in the right direction.
I just happen to have a bit more faith in the system and teachers than you.  I think the fight to improve the system is being fought just not by a small minority of parents in Pennsylvania, but by hundreds of thousands of parents and teachers across the country.
Conversely, I think educational problems are exacerbated by the actions of many parents and teachers across the country.
The fight is not being won by parents alone, nor is it being resisted by teachers alone.
Some of us just have different perspectives, but most folk try and do the right thing, including teachers.



Ron
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http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum29/HTML/001434-3.html#52
jbouder
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20 posted 07-02-2003 12:35 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Tim:

I think the issues are similar.  For the gifted, there may be the notion that, because of their giftedness, they will not be held back if an individualized, challenging education is not provided to them.  On the special ed side, the view that some children simply cannot learn is still too common.  Both serve as excuses to not provide a high-quality, challenging education to these children.

I, personally, have had no issues with my son's teachers.  They were professional and skilled and genuinely cared for my son's well being.  Problems I have had resulted from school administrators failing to provide the instructional support to the teachers necessary for them to do their jobs.  Even the best teacher will buckle under the pressure if he or she is not being provided the needed instructional and professional support.

Regardless of who is fighting the fight and who is most to blame, the onus should never have to rest on the parent to convince educators that their child can learn.  Too often it does.

Jim
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