Let me tell you a story about a very special little girl. I wish this was a fictional story but unfortunately it is true.
This very special little girl lives on St. Thomas. She is incredibly bright and further blessed with a traditional stable family of two good hard working parents and three rather average normal brothers and sisters.
When she started this school year, last September she was in the third grade. At the end of September she was transferred to the fourth grade. At the end of November she was transferred to the fifth grade. She’’s looking forward to the end of January so she can be in the same grade as her older sister!
She’ll ask an adult a question and before they get to the end of their answer she either finishes their sentence or jumps in with another question. When she talks about how she has learned so much beyond her grade she refers to the On-line teacher on Channel 12 rather than teachers she has had in school.
Her ability to ‘‘intuit’’ knowledge is incredible, thank heavens, because no one is making any attempt to make up for what she missed when she skipped third and fourth grades. The first math lesson she got in the fifth grade was plane geometry. Unfortunately she doesn’t really have a grasp of her times tables and no one has yet to teach her simple division. (She will tell you that, great educational diagnostician that she is forced to be.)
The list of words she was given to make into plurals has never been checked and since she hasn’t learned several spelling rules (i.e. thief becomes thieves) she’ll never know she is wrong. Until she fails the test that determines report card grades.
Science is a particularly interesting subject to her now. But she is soon going to become very frustrated because the assignments are in a workbook that she doesn’t have the corresponding book for. Her science book is newer and uses different terminology. Everyone else in the class has the new book and an old book to go with the workbook but she has to struggle along guessing at the answers.
Her reading skills are very good but apparently she receives no guidance when she chooses books in the library because she still reads books for second graders. There are no whole class reading assignments or literature discussions in her classroom. The students are told to listen to the tapes of stories and answer the questions for each story. She says they use different stories and no one ever discusses them or checks her work with these.
She writes excellent essays and stories for her assignments. These are not collected and checked. Occasionally the teacher walks around the class and looks over the papers. The one essay her teacher has ‘‘checked’’ had seven misspelled words, three missing words and a major grammar error. The only thing the teacher ‘‘corrected’’ was the spelling of always. The teacher insisted it should be spelled ‘‘allways’’.
How many more wonderfully bright and special little girls and boys are being failed so miserably by our education system?


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