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Ridiculous Things I Heard Today rolling eyes

edited by Carolyn K. director, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
copyright © 1998-2015 Carolyn K.

Please contact Carolyn K. before reprinting any part of this page.

We've all heard them before... Early entrance to kindergarten for our gifted children is rejected because "The other kids will get their driver's licenses earlier." Skipping senior year in high school is rejected with the question "But what about the prom?" And my personal favorite (not!), "School isn't just about academics." True, but academics are the largest part!

Here's a collection of our favorite 'wisdoms' imparted on us as parents by educational and psychological professionals, and (I kid you not) as educational and psychological professions, by parents! Understand, not all parents, educators or psychological professionals are bad, and not all believe these statements. But we've all heard one or two of these by the time our children get out of high school. So here's the wisdom that started this collection, and many others we've heard along the way...

Note to teachers: Please don't be upset by this page.  No one is saying that teachers are ridiculous... some of these items are from teachers, about parents; others come from parents who are teachers (or is that teachers who are parents?).  And none of us is immune from occasionally saying ridiculous things... I know I'm not.  But sometimes we say things, and they sound good to us at the time, but they really don't sound good to those listening to us...

Note to all: We tell the kids not to call people "stupid."  We lecture them, not to use the word "stupid" on people or things, and especially not on yourself.  And then I go and name this page "Stupid Things I Heard Today."  Stupid.  Oops, I mean ridiculous.  And so, the name change, to "Ridiculous Things I Heard Today."  And the new title really does fit the page better.  Thanks to Sue, for straightening me out!

Recently my 2nd grade highly gifted son came home with a C- on his grade report for reading.

I asked the teacher why he was given a C- when in the school’s own testing indicated he was 100% proficient at the 2nd grade level and was in fact reading at a 12th grade level.

Her response: “Because he doesn’t check out 2nd grade books from the school library on the class library day.” -- Sandy

My 6 year old 1st grader came home sad yesterday. "My teacher just never says nice things to me. I always finish first, my handwriting is so neat, but she just says ok to me. When the next kid finished the math packet today she said she was proud of him, but said nothing to me even though I finished much earlier."

His 8 year old 3rd grade brother comforted the younger one: "Don't feel bad, teachers don't like kids like us, we make them feel insecure."


And my tears came right about then. -- Kristina

After testing my rising 4th grade daughter, the elementary math chairperson was impressed, and said a lot of modifications would be required. But, she cannot move up to 5th grade for math. Why? Ready for this? (Men, please pardon me...) "The 5th graders will all get their periods this year." -- Carolyn K.

Fast forward... she's now 11, a rising 10th grader, and we just met with the high school math chair about her math for the fall.  After seeing her work from this year in Honors Geometry I and Honors Algebra II and her math SAT-I scores, the high school math chair recommended AP Calculus AB for the fall.  She still hasn't reached the milestone set by that elementary math chair, in this very same district... I guess it doesn't matter after 5th grade! -- again Carolyn K.

My 3 year old's daycare educator told my mother proudly that my daughter can complete 48 piece puzzles in under 5 minutes. When my daughter reached for the 60 piece puzzle, the lady snatched it away from her telling E. , "You're too small to do this puzzle honey."

E. does 150 piece puzzles at home.

We plan on donating a few 100+ piece puzzles to the daycare. -- Noemi

How I found out my son had leprosy: I took my almost 4 year old to our local public school for orientation day and to discuss early entry with the principal. I sent my son off to a Kindergarten class room to hang out with the other prospective kindy kids and the kindy teachers (none of which knew his circumstances). I spoke with the principal and didn't get a great vibe then headed back to the class room, looking in through a window to see him in action. He was having a great time with a teacher working a puzzle and chatting. I entered and interrupted them and the teacher said, "he is a very bright, confident boy and fitted straight in". I said, "well that's great because we are looking at early entry for him, he hasn't turned four yet". A fearful look came over her face, she stepped away from my son....."Oh" she said. It was then I realised he must have leprosy. -- Glenn in Australia, who adds, "don't be offended by the first and last sentences ..... it's just my sense of humour."

S (aged 9) was professionally IQ tested after being tested at the local elementary school where he had ceilinged all their tests. The school tests were done to see what grade level I should homeschool at. After getting the results, I called the Intermediate school to see if he could do SOME classes there. No! definitely not. They could not accommodate a PG (profoundly gifted) kid.

We then called the High School where his older (HG - highly gifted) brother attended, and asked the Principal if they would allow S to take Chemistry and Biology classes at Freshman level. After being told that this child was PG (never heard of it!) and the results of his IQ test, she replied.

"We don't have any Gifted children at our school (of 1100 +students)"

"How can that be? I know about half a dozen of them, including my older son" I replied.

"Well, your information is incorrect" She said, and put down the phone.

S said that we should go to the local Community College (CC) and see if THEY would accept him. The CC said they would if he could pass all the entry exams. We turn up for the exams, and the docent refuses to give him the test, saying they don't give the test to 'children'. We had to go and get a letter from the Counselor before he was allowed to take the test, that day. He aced all the tests. Docent looked like a stunned mullet when she told he achieved 100% on all the tests.

It wasn't until after S was accepted into the College system that the High School Principal agreed for him to take two classes at her school. After 6 weeks of High School classes, he withdrew. The other students made life so incredibly unbearable for S. He kept telling the other kids to leave him alone and let him learn. They didn't. He thrived at CC and later at 4 year college where he graduated with an Honors degree in Computer Science at 17. -- Monica

The time the reading specialist looked at me with a room full of parents and said "Early reading is not a sign of giftedness. There is no correlation." I smiled politely, cleared my throat and said " So, if you have a child, who may or may not be gifted, and that's not relevant to this meeting anyway, who started sounding out words at age three and was reading by age four, how do you as a school plan to keep that kid motivated?" Mind you, this was a 'Principal's Chat' about the Kindergarten reading program. Not about giftedness. She brought it up apropos of nothing. And yes, she caught my eye when she said it, gambling that I'd be too shy to respond. -- Rachel

Last year, we used a district based independent study program (I was desperate after pulling her from regular school in late October). After FINALLY getting the IQ and grade level assessment, I made an appointment to talk to the school psychologist, hoping for an acceleration. I mean, it's an independent study program, what's the big deal, right? The psychologist barely looked at the test results, then patronizingly said to me, "Well, these don't really MEAN anything. They are pretty much useless. They don't really tell us anything important about your child. Besides, we can't even use them." I was livid. I never sent my DD back to the classroom option, only the extras that she liked, did the minimum amount of required work, finished the school year in April and went out of town! -- Myrinda

My then first grader had been reading for many years before attending school. The teacher, confused as to what do do with her said "But you've taught her the wrong way". To this day I am still trying to work out what the wrong way is. She is now 21 and studying pre-med. It doesn't appear to have harmed her. -- Karen

In kindergarten, my son had a difficult time paying attention, from both boredom and from having a sensory processing disorder (SPD). Much of the work he was being asked to do, he had done the year before in a private preschool, such as A through G dot-to-dots, selecting rhyming words from a group of pictures like cat and hat, and so on. He had a meltdown on the 3rd day of kindergarten, and I was called from my office in the next building by the principal. It broke my heart to see him as upset as he was, so it was an emotion-filled meeting. I explained that the year before he had been diagnosed as having (SPD - especially auditory processing difficulties) but had never had any problems in school before. When the teacher was explaining what had happened (he hadn't put his papers in his backpack so that he could get the next worksheet), she said that she always tells the kids that don't do as their asked to "ask the smart person sitting next to you who was listening."

My son spent the whole year telling me that his teacher thought he was stupid and didn't know what he could do, although he still adores her and wants her approval. I spent the whole year trying to get his teacher to give him more challenging work because he was bored, to no avail. He also says that in his school, they don't learn anything new until 2nd grade - he just started 1st.

Later ... During summer break, he saw his kindergarten teacher at his t-ball game and excitedly began telling her about the book that he had just finished reading - one of the Magic Treehouse series (his reading program in kindergarten had consisted of Dick and Jane level books for only the second semester even though he was picking up reading much more quickly - he is now reading at the 5th grade level as an entering 1st grader). Her response to him was, "Well, you really should spend more time outside" in a tone that told me she thought that I forced him to sit and read all summer instead of all our exploring at the small lake that we live at and hiking in National Forests on our vacation! -- Anonymous Teacher & Mom

We had a meeting with our 8-year-old's teacher to discuss assignment differentiation and/or subject acceleration. After trying to discuss the results of our daughter's test scores (WISC-IV & WIAT-II), the teacher finally glanced at the psychologist's comprehensive report and asked us patronizingly, "Was this an internet test?" -- J

My conversation with my neighbor who's a first grade teacher...

Me: My son is doing multiplication and division with remainder now. It's amazing what a 6-year-old can learn.
Neighbor: Yeah?...but is he doing manipulative?
Me: He's doing multiplication and division.
Neighbor: Is he doing manipulative?
Me: What do you mean?
Neighbor: If I put a dozen pieces of candy or objects on the table, can he add them up?
Me: Huh?
-- Susan

My 10-year-old daughter takes reading two grade levels ahead currently. She's in the 4th grade and takes reading with the gifted 6th grade class.  Here's our discussion regarding next year's scheduling...

Middle School Gifted Counselor: We don't want to put your daughter in 7th grade gifted reading next year. She'll have to re do the same year of gifted reading, with the same teacher, but as an independent study.
        Me: Why?
Middle School Gifted Counselor: Because in two years, when she is in the 8th grade, she won't be able to take a higher class.
        Me: Why not?
Middle School Gifted Counselor: Because we only have one bus which travels to the high school for advanced classes, and that is only for math students.
        -- Marie

In 3rd grade I complained to her teacher that my daughter was not being challenged enough and I feared she would not continue to advance if something wasn't done. He responsed, "Well we need ditch diggers just as much as we need doctors."

In 5th grade my daughter was constantly bringing home essay papers and book reports with low scores on them and words circled in red. She couldn't understand why the teacher kept marking all of her papers wrong. During a parent teacher conference the teacher complained that my daughter was not spelling words correctly and often "made up" words when she didn't "feel like doing the assignment." We bought the teacher a new dictionary and a copy of the GRE study book so that she would know that the words my daughter was using were REAL words. We no longer see red marks on her papers. -- Georgia

The gifted resource teacher at the school my kids attend was telling me that the district curriculum people still don't understand gifted kids. She said that she was explaining to them that there are kids who enter kindergarten and first grade reading fluently and so something needs to be done to accommodate these kids so they don't have to sit through the introduction to the alphabet and basic phonics instruction. The curriculum people were worried that if they allowed the kids to miss the alphabet and phonics instruction there would be gaps in their knowledge.  But they are already fluent readers (as evaluated by the district's experienced teachers), so how many gaps could they have? -- Marcie

While trying to place our two year old daughter in preschool, we heard the following phrases from two different schools: “just because she can read at this age doesn't mean that she should" and "we prefer that she not read in class because it makes the other children feel bad."  Right. -- Lindsey

The problem is that the Kindergarten and 1st grade has no room in the curriculum for natural differentiation...it's exclusively to learn to read, learn to add, learn to subtract. So we got "Sorry if your kid can multiply, divide, and add with borrowing half way through kindergarten.  It's against our policy to provide anything different in the classroom." And, "Sorry if your kid read Harry Potter 1 through 4 in kindergarten and reads over 2000 pages a month.  Oh, and by the way it's your fault for providing inappropriate reading material." -- Natalie

Montessori organizes the kids into three-year cycles based on age. When my youngest was 4, and finishing his second year in their Casa program, he was already reading encyclopedias and doing multiplication. I asked if he could be moved up to the elementary program, rather than doing the final Senior-Kindergarten-level year.

After many meetings, and showing the teachers and directors his IQ testing which put him in the 99.9th percentile, they concluded that he should stay for the final year in Casa "to develop his leadership qualities by helping the younger ones." Never mind that this child does not suffer fools gladly, and even finds some adults who are not quick on the uptake, frustrating. He was expected to stay in this classroom with children as young as 2.5 who seemed like incoherent babies to him! -- Lisa in Ontario

When I took my older son (now age 8) to the family doctor to discuss some anxiety and obsessive behaviours that were developing as a result of stress (largely social) at school, I informed him that I was considering homeschooling the boys, since they were both highly gifted and not getting sufficient challenges at school.

The doctor responded that that was a bad idea. "We all know that school is just a glorified babysitting service, but kids need the socialization." Never mind that this socialization and lack of intellectual stimulation was making my child mentally ill! Since we began homeschooling, his problems have miraculously disappeared! -- Lisa, again

One of my favourite "ridiculous things" was from the postman, who was delivering yet another box of books to our house as we started homeschooling. I told him what we were doing, and he said, "I'd be worried about their socialization. It's important that kids learn how to deal with bullies, because they're going to come across them when they grow up."

Umm....maybe so. But do they need to have a miserable childhood to prepare them for that possibility? What if we let them keep their self-esteem intact by allowing them to learn at the level they need to, without being ridiculed by others or forced to "dumb down". Maybe then they'll have the confidence to deal with those "bullies" they might later encounter. -- Lisa, and again

My 1st grade daughter doesn't learn anything in class, and she's almost through with the school library, which she reads after rushing through her coloring assignments. I did not know how "gifted" she is; she is my first kid, and I don't have a whole lot of contact with other 6-year-olds, so I have no clue if she is around 51st percentile and the curriculum just doesn't suit her, or she's closer to 99th percentile and there isn't too much that the school can do for her.

Finally after fighting with the school system for 3 months, the school administers the K-TEA one sunny morning. The principal called us to school 3 days later, and told us that she is pretty bright, and that she scored on average 75th percentile for age 8:2. We peek at a piece of paper with results, there are higher numbers there, but we are not permitted to see the paper. She may be be given some math enrichment in class starting in a few weeks.

I go home, write a thank you e-mail, and ask for a copy of the test results. It really does not make sense to me, why did they calculate her score for age 8:2?  Is 8:2 her.. age equivalent? That would make her pretty "normal." But 75th percentile does not correspond to 8:2; it is something way less. Ten days later, we get an e-mail stating the same facts, she was scored at age 8:2 and scored 75%, still no scoring sheet, nothing. Oh, well, time to buy a Christmas tree, go pick daughter from school to cut a tree. Bump into principal, who can't really avoid giving me the piece of paper any more. I glimpse over it and start laughing. They actually scored her for 6:2, the problem was that she was out of range (99.9% math, 99.9% spelling, and a measly 98% in reading). So they just rescored her as if she was age 8:2 to give me more earthly results. -- Ileana

A math department chairman told me that his school has never accelerated a student more than one year ahead in math, and never would. Why? Because for kids there is an "optimal time for working with certain concepts." If kids engage with those math concepts too early, he explained, they just won't be able to "get" them as well as if they wait until the "optimal time." Naturally, this "optimal time" is the same for every kid, and it means that even if your kid has already learned Algebra, and can prove it, they don't REALLY know Algebra. A well-developed theory that adds up to: we don't believe kids like yours exist. -- A Frustrated Mom

Our third grader was told by his teacher that he could not read Lord of the Rings in class, since the books are not at the right level. And when the reading test scores come in at the end of the year, we saw from our child's Lexile score that the teacher was right about one thing: Lord of the Rings was not at the right level for you child. As it turns out, the books were beneath his level! Unfortunately, he was so discouraged by his teacher's remarks, he spent the rest of third grade reading Spongebob.

Parent: Please allow my child to skip a grade. I am worried that without a challenging enough curriculum, she may develop social and emotional problems.
School: We'll schedule a meeting.

.. quite some time later ..

Parent: Well?
School: No grade skip.
Parent: Why?
School: She seems to have developed social and emotional problems... -- Steven

Technicality keeps Grapevine High's top student from being valedictorian.  In one Texas school district, completing high school in three years with the school's highest GPA on record means that you cannot be valedictorian, and worse, gives your school district the right to take away the college scholarship that you've worked hard to earn!  The lesson is obvious: be a good student, but don't be too good, or we'll take away all the honors you earn...

My son was misdiagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 3.  The experts thought it was abnormal for a 3 year old to have a Ravens verbal score of age 8.9.  He identified the alphabet at 10 months and could count to 10 at the same age, he taught himself to read before he was 2, and loved doing his sisters grade 6 math homework at the time of the testing, so he must have Autism mustn’t he.  He was reassessed at age 9 as being highly gifted and not having Aspergers at all... he was cured. -- Janice

His grade 5 teacher told me with much enthusiasm during an IEP meeting that she had already explained to my son that he needed to ‘sacrifice’ himself for the good of others, and she was very pleased that he understood why it was selfish of him to know all the answers. She went on to explain that he was no longer putting his hand up to answer questions, which she was very pleased about but was becoming concerned by his growing lack of contributions to class discussions. Whoops!!

The coordinator looked at the 3-years-above-level state test that my son had completed with 92% accuracy and said “never mind, he’s doing the grade 5 state test this year and those results are the ones that matter”. The point that it was an 8th grade test was lost.  He was now in grade 5 and should only know grade 5 material, and anything more than that is irrelevant.

In grade 4 the teacher had assessed him as having a reading comprehension level of grade 11.5.  This year they decided that that was too high so they reduced it to grade 5.2.  The reason given was “so he would have more books to read.”  The library doesn’t have any books for him to read on his real level so it was deemed in his best interest to make him reread the books he was reading in grade 2.  The sorry state of understanding gifted children is all over the globe! -- Janice, from down under

My son was given an Algebra readiness test by the school to see where he should placed in math.  His score of 48 of 50 problems correct earned him permission to move from 6th grade to 7th grade arithmetic, but not into Algebra I.  My question is, where should he be placed in math next fall? -- Linda

Editor's Note: why did they give him an Algebra readiness test if they weren't ready to place him into Algebra?  I wonder where he's ready to be placed for the next year?  Time will tell...

Riding on their Coattails: Do you realize what you’re saying???  A Teacher Magazine blog by Tamara Fisher. Tamara is rightfully indignant at the comments of teachers and administrators in her school and all over the country.  Here's a common example...

Montana Tech wants to open a residential school for its top math and science high school students.  They've got funding, they've got a location, but there are concerns “...including the effect on local school districts if their top students transferred to the program at Tech. Districts’ financial support is based partly on the size of enrollment, and outstanding students often help to boost schools’ composite scores on standardized tests.”

Tamara rants, "Never mind their education. Never mind their RIGHT TO LEARN. Never mind what’s best for the child. Just make sure the school looks good. Yeah – that’s what’s most important…"

And don't even get her started on having kids help their peers in the classroom instead of learning... read her whole column for more Ridiculous Things!  Do you know what you're saying?

Thank you, Tamara!

This would be laughable... if it weren't true!  Utah lawmakers, fearing UN conspiracy, kill funds for International Baccalaureate program  Apparently, educating our youth is "anti-American!"  Turns out the senator felt bad when her comments were published, so she allocated a small sum to the IB program after all... but she's still concerned that IB in other states is a U.N. conspiracy!  Lawmakers reconsider comments about International Baccalaureate programs

But wait, it's not over.  Closer scrutiny of I.B. studies  There are still "concerns from teachers and parents about the tenor of I.B. programs..."  We'll have to wait and see...

When asked why no gifted programming was available for math or science "Our lawyers say we've done enough." -- Joan

About a year ago, I posted a job announcement on a teachers' board for a summer job as a private preschool teacher, very well paid. In the text, I mentioned that my daughter was 14 months old and recognized all letters, uppercase and lowercase. While no teacher applied for the job, I did receive several angry emails about the harm I was doing to my daughter. The best--"Too much learning will damage her brain!" -- Sorina

When my daughter was about 20 months, we ran into a kindergarten teacher in the library.  My daughter wanted to help one of the teacher's students with a basic board puzzle (probably 9 pieces or so); the 5-year-old was ok with the help. The teacher came over and told my daughter "you cannot do this, you are still a baby." My daughter got instant tears in her eyes and kept saying "I am a baby and can't do puzzles..." I stepped in and explained the teacher that in fact that puzzle was way too easy for my daughter, and waited for the girl to finish so my daughter could prove to herself that she could do it. I did not do this for my personal gain, despite what the woman probably thought--I didn't care what she thought about me or my daughter, but my little one did. It took my daughter more than a month to approach that section of the library again. -- Sorina

When my son was two, we often went to restaurants with several 24-pc wooden puzzles to amuse him as we waited. He could put them together in a few minutes or so. One time a teacher in the table next to us introduced herself to us and asked the age of our child. I said two, and she said in a clear loud voice "You know as your son is two, he shouldn't be making those puzzles." Shouldn't? Well, he stopped after that for quite a while; he felt he was doing something wrong. -- Marianne

My son, age six, was sitting on lunch tables set just feet away from a row of books. I was observing from a distance that day, helping the teachers. My son had just completed his lunch and he eyed the books on the shelf for titles that sounded interesting. He stood up, grabbed a book, and sat back down to read. Almost immediately, he was reprimanded from the teacher who was nearby. She told him in a loud and non-ambiguous voice, "This is lunch. There is no reading at lunch. There is no reading allowed at anytime other than reading time! Put that book away." Ouch!...Does this at all help children develop a lasting love for reading? -- Marianne

I mention this as a warning to other parents, to not do what we did.  A few months before the time of the Sneaker Incident, we talked to the principal about our daughter's levels in her academic subjects.  We both worked full time, and our daughter was in daycare, but she did learn at least some of what she knew from us - when she asked a question, we answered.  The principal told us that we should stop answering our daughter's questions on any academic subject... and I'm sad to admit, we did.  Instead, we redirected her to several non-academic subjects she was interested in, and she asked many more questions on astronomy, and we investigated the night sky together, and she learned the sign-language alphabet. 

But she learned that we wouldn't answer her questions any more.  Please learn from our mistake.  No matter what someone tells you, please don't ever do this to your child.

And worse, it didn't help.  When she started 1st grade that fall, to help some kids who didn't know their alphabet yet, the teacher put up a poster of the sign-language alphabet, and asked if anyone knew what it was.  Only A. did, and when the teacher called on her, she signed her name.  The teacher immediately chastised her for making "rude hand gestures."  A. came home from school very sad that day. 

A few weeks later, the teacher put up an overhead cell with some dots on it, and asked if anyone knew what it was.  Again, only A. did, and when the teacher called on her, she started explaining about the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, also called the Great Bear, and how the stars looked like a giant scoop.  Then she continued, pointing out that it might be the Little Dipper, and if it was, the two stars in the end of the scoop point to the North Star... the teacher interrupted her, and chastised her not to "answer in so much detail."

Soon after was our parent-teacher conference.  That's when we learned the newest problem - since the Big Dipper day, A. was staring out the window and not paying attention to or showing respect to the teacher. No, she hadn't gotten anything wrong in class, and she always knew the answers when called on, but it was just disrespectful to stare out the window. 

Alexa left her class a few weeks later.  She did very well in 2nd grade for the rest of the year.  -- Carolyn K.

Monday was a very bad day in 8th grade health class this week for my 13 year old, gifted son. The class had been assigned a project called “I am Unique.” There were six parts to the report. The report itself was elementary – one part even required students to write their name vertically and come up with an adjective that describes them for each letter in their name—not really what we would expect of 8th grade work.

On Monday, the students passed in their reports. Surprise! To my son’s horror, the students were told they must read their reports to the class. When he objected that his report contained personal information, he was told he had to read two pages of it anyway. As he began to share the adjectives that describe him, using vocabulary that would be found on the SAT exam, the class began to laugh. My son anxiously explained to the teacher that the class did not know what the words meant. “You have to explain the words to them,” she told him. Oh, from bad to worse! He had written about being gifted, feeling different, being bullied and overcoming a sensory disorder. The class laughed throughout my son’s presentation. My son told the teacher, “I am the worst public speaker in the world,” and laid his head on his desk.

The really ridiculous thing is so obvious… Why ask a student to expose how he is unique and then allow a classroom environment that mocks uniqueness instead of embracing and rewarding it? For that lack of integrity, I give this teacher a failing grade! -- Amy

I heard the phrase twice within two weeks, once regarding my son (K) and once regarding my daughter (2nd).

We met with my son’s gifted teacher to go over his test results and after a pleasant conversation, she just shook her head, “I’ve never this before. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with him.”

We met with my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher, gifted teacher, and dyslexia teacher to go over her recent reading/writing tests. The 7th grade reading, comprehension, and vocabulary levels and speed of reading impressed them all. The 0% accurate spelling, reversed letters, failed phonics, and atrocious handwriting confirmed the diagnosis: dyslexia (later proven by a paid professional to be dysgraphia). Sitting around the table in our wee chairs, we heard it again: “We’ve never seen this before. We’re not quite sure how to handle her yet.”

So, the local public school declared for each of my children: we’ve never seen this & we don’t know what to do. When the principal is presented with gifted research and documentation, we’re told: “We know this type of personality, he’ll be fine.” (and no, acceleration is not a possibility) ~and~ “She compensates very well, she’ll be fine.” (you don’t want it on her permanent record)

“Fine.” must be their measuring stick. -- Jen

I remember saying, in exasperation, to our older son's principal:  "He's bright, he's well behaved, he really is eager to learn. Why is this a problem?"

I think the most honest thing the district ever said to me is when the superintendent told me at the end of years of unsuccessful advocating on my husband and my part:  "Schools were not designed for children like yours."

We were lucky.  We were able to find a great private school to meet our sons' needs. -- Allison

File this under "teachers in denial"...

My son goes to a preschool that does a pretty good job, although they refuse to see my son as gifted, just "strong willed and ahead of the others". (He reads, does math, yada yada....they are so unimpressed).  Having parented for 14 years, I know longer need them to "come to Jesus" as long as they do the right thing.

When my son gets out of hand, he serves his time out in the director's office (his teacher feels like "he always out-argues me"). This is fine with me. And with him, since he finds the office more interesting than the three year old room. The time out rule is that he cannot return to his classroom until the beginning of the next activity. The director pulled me aside today and said DS has shown "initiative" in rejoining his classmates by announcing "it's time for me to go back, may I return?" She said " the funny thing is, he's right, it IS time for him to go back".

Then, shaking her head she said "We don't know how he does it....he just looks at the clock and SOMEHOW knows what time it is...it's the oddest thing!"

(Um...could he be telling time? the funny thing to me is that a three year old has memorized his class schedule and no one thinks THAT is odd... :-) ) -- Vicki

And another for the "teachers in denial" collection...

Once upon a time, there was a very bright child.  She scored extremely well on their "tests," didn't deal well with boredom and solitude in their early elementary classes, and rather than tax their teachers with differentiation, the school offered the parents a grade skip for the child - take it, or leave it - no differentiated instruction would be provided.  The parents, faced with two minutes to decide their child's future... took it, in spite of some obvious weaknesses in this child's learning.  The school assured parents that those weaknesses would be supported -- it would be easier for them than supporting their strengths.

Fast forward 6 years.  The weaknesses have been diagnosed as specific Learning Disabilities (LD).  This amazingly bright child is what's known as Twice Exceptional, or Dually Identified.  But the school will not "formalize" her diagnosis, in spite of their own psychologist's report.  They will not remediate or even accommodate her disabilities, in spite of state and federal law mandating that they must.  Instead, the school's solution is to threaten the family with lawsuits, and insist that, in spite of her good grades when she had minor (free!) accommodations, and excellent state achievement test scores, they will only accommodate and remediate the child if she repeats not just 1, but 2 grades, and gives up her gifted identification and class, now that the school has thrown out the child's accommodations and ignored her remediation for three years.

Huh? -- anonymous parents not revealed, for fear of further retaliation against their wonderful child

The director of a “gifted” school told me that my son’s poor handwriting (age 4) was proof that he was not really gifted. He might be able to read at a 3rd or 4th grade level, but because he could not do journal writing at a similar rate/proficiency he was not gifted. His inability to complete 1 minute math timed tests was proof of his lack of math ability. DS actually articulates rules related to various math facts. He can verbally answer these questions. But writing very quickly is another matter. This lack of speed and proficiency in writing is proof that he isn’t gifted in math. And more importantly, he could not be educated until his handwriting reached a similar level. -- a different Carolyn

A friend of mine has a son who is obviously gifted, and in the state where they lived previously, he had skipped a grade. He flies through books above his grade level and he eats up information on math and science. He also finds school incredibly easy. For some reason I do not understand, in this new school district he has never been tested for gifted. His parents are not very well-to-do, so they certainly can't afford to test him on their own -- although they kept fighting for it to happen at school. They have lived here three years now, and FINALLY in the middle of fifth grade, the school system has decided to "find out" if he is gifted. However, they made a mistake and gave him the test for the wrong age level (remember, he already skipped a grade) and he missed being qualified gifted at the wrong level by ONE POINT. They will not accept him into the gifted program on this basis. Now the mom is in the process of fighting for them to retest her son, but there is not much hope of that happening before goes to middle school. He deserves a lot better than this. -- Melody

I spent 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in three different states. In 4th grade in State #1, I learned fractions. I had been taking private violin lessons for a year, and my elementary school let me play in the 5th grade orchestra. I began 5th grade still in the same state, and that elementary school would bus me over to the local middle school every day for pre-algebra and 6th grade orchestra. That's right: they spent their own money on gas and bus drivers to make sure I was learning.

I moved to State #2 after a couple months of this and was taught fractions again. The elementary school had no orchestra program, so I played in a community orchestra. (Some of the music this orchestra played I later encountered in high school in State #3!)

I moved to State #3 for 6th grade and was put in beginner orchestra and 6th grade math (oh, yes, fractions again -- State #3 was a little behind). This is what infuriates me to this day: pre-algebra, the very same stuff I had begun the year before, was taught during my beginner orchestra class, and second-year orchestra was taught during my 6th grade math. I figured this out and asked my teacher, administrator, and principal (each successive authority after being denied by the previous
one) if I could simply trade class periods. I even offered to sit on the floor if they did not have enough desks! My parents continued bringing all of this up with my teacher, and I was acing every pretest for the 6th grade math units, but the most I was given was "enrichment activities" (read: the same math but with a "creative element" thrown in).

At the end of the year, I must have said something that clicked with my math teacher, because I remember her saying, "Oh! You actually wanted to have the more challenging math this whole time? I thought your parents were pressuring you to do this!" Just because my parents were fighting for me does not mean that they were the only ones in favor of my learning something at school! -- Laura

I was 13 years old, a sophomore in high school for the gifted (how ironic!). The English teacher asked the class, "Name the most important person in your life."

She pointed at me so I answered, "John Steinbeck..."  I intended to explain that I found myself and my fears recognized and qualified in the extreme poverty in Grapes of Wrath -- having had a troubled childhood in a single-income household in a depressed municipality in a far-flung corner of the Philippines -- and the discrimination in Of Mice and Men. But before I could utter a single word, the teacher laughed incredulously, "Who?  JOHN STEINBECK?!  But writers couldn't be the most important person in your life!  What about your parents, your grandparents, your family?!"  Everyone in class took her cue, laughed nervously, and hastily edited what they had to stay.

It proved to be one of the most boring classes I ever had to endure. -- Trina

Sorry, kid - I know you've earned your spot, but until you're shaving you can't live in a dorm!

After sharing, with longtime discussion board friends, the news that our son, 15, has been accepted to the honors program at the local University and will be living in the honors dorm in the fall, we received a long diatribe about the dangers of campus life from a well-meaning friend.

"Being the smallest, the youngest, he'll feel inferior because he can't drive, because he isn't as tall, because he doesn't have as much facial hair, because he isn't as physically developed -and all that will ultimately reflect itself in his self-esteem. I hate to be the voice of gloom and doom but I hope you'll consider my warning." -- Juli

I am in a district with no gifted program, identification, or funding. We shared our son's kindergarten test results on his registration forms before grade 1; he was assessed last year by a literacy coach in the district as being at an instructional level of N - P (guided reading).  The grade 1 teacher has him in a group working on levels I - K. I waited until after the first trimester, and asked her nicely about this placement.  After several months (and two notes), she finally called back.  She told me that she didn't want to push my son, and he could not demonstrate the "deep level of comprehension" that texts at levels N - P would require. Also, she said that most content at those levels would be inappropriate for him. I told her what he likes to read at home - currently lots of Goosebumps books - and I sensed that she did not believe he could understand them. She said that at this age some kids can read the words, but they can't understand what they read. He really does understand / discuss / enjoy books at these levels!

In Math, I asked the teacher back in November if she could give him some harder stuff. She said "NO, I have to follow the Everyday Math Curriculum exactly and we are not allowed to deviate." I later asked the Math Coach about this and she said it was untrue. She said there was a lot the teacher could do. At home, my son was asking me to work with him on exponents the other day. He has been working on multiplication, division, and fractions, has been telling time to the minute for at least a year, and does multiple-digit addition and subtraction.

I think that acceleration would be the best choice in this case, but they just don't do it. Some responses I have gotten from educators and psychologists in the district:

bulletFrom the Kindergarten registration coordinator: "Stop reading with your son - it's our job to teach him that, not yours."
bulletFrom the WPPSI tester: "His challenge in school will be social instead of academic."
bulletFrom the first grade teacher: "It's not necessary to test kids this little - it's better not to know."
bulletFrom the literacy consultant: "They all even out by third grade - he's just early because you have provided an exceptionally enriching environment."
bulletFrom the kindergarten teacher: "My job is to get them all on the same page by the end of the year."
bulletFrom the literacy consultant again: "Grade skipping is an awful thing to do to a child, especially because he will not hit puberty when everyone else does in middle school."
bulletAnd my favorite, from the K teacher: "Your son is not perfect, you know."

-- Patricia

I teach Grade 3 at the same school my son attends. My son is in in Kindergarten and just turned 6 years old. We made the decision not to accelerate him because of the excellent pre-K and Kindergarten teachers that are at our school. They allow him to explore as much as he wishes but still provide him a chance to develop the structural needs that he has. Anyway, our son taught himself to decode and read words at 3 1/2 years old and we quickly learned about his special abilities. At 4 he was given a K-BIT and scored off the charts. We thought about getting further testing done but we felt the cost was too great to have it done privately so we had him put on the School Divisions waiting list. Well, it took 1 1/2 years but he is finally getting a WISC IV done.

The Chartered Psychologist for the School Division stopped me in the staff room to tell me that he was excited because my son was finally going to be tested. I thanked him for the news and he left the staff room. A colleague of mine then asked why my son was going to be tested. I responded it was to test for giftedness so that an Individual Program Plan could be implemented for him in subsequent years. My colleague then responded, "I didn't know he was gifted, he seems to fit in so well with the kids in his class!" Like all gifted kids are social pariahs or something.

Later that day another teacher had heard the news and told me, "Are you sure he is gifted? I mean he does get very emotional at times and acts a little immature at times as well." As if gifted children some how must always act older than their peers. I thought about explaining the concept of Asynchronous Development but then thought better of it. -- James

My son had terrible adjustment problems to kindergarten. After a long battle with the school, he was moved to a new classroom. Turns out the biggest problem in the first classroom, he was to "enthusiastic about learning and needed to learn to control his impulses." His crime, when she was teaching something new, he always wanted to ask questions and learn more. It was disruptive to the class for him to have so many questions.  -- LV

I was chatting with a friend who's son is in 1st grade at the same school, and was called into a conference with the teacher last week. The teacher is concerned about her son's progress and wants to prevent him from moving up another reading level because his work is not inconsistent. Her proof that he is having trouble with his class work... last week he had all wrong answers on his math papers. The mom looked at the papers offered. The child had all the correct answers, but had written each answer in Roman numerals. -- LV

My son completed Stanford EPGY second grade in 5 days with 100% and has also been tested very gifted in math on WIAT & WISC. When I inquired about accelerating him as he was really bored, I was told that they would not accelerate beacuse he learns so fast that it really would not matter what grade he was in????? -- Brenda

My older son, very bright and high energy, with dyslexia, was told by his 2nd grade teacher that he had "lofty goals" to get straight As. When he started 3rd grade he was reading at a Kindergarten level, so we took him to a private tutor (he jumped 3 grade levels in a year). The school insisted that he did not need extra help, but had ADHD and "there were some great meds out there for him". They also told me that for a parent to work with a child on their homework (even a child with learning disabilities and high intelligence?) it set up "dangerous dynamics" and "led to anger problems". Needless to say, we refused to medicate. He's now in 6th grade, loves reading, excels at math, cross country, and wrestling (at a different school).

My youngest son was a fluent reader by the time he started Kindergarten. He was reading chapter books at home. I approached his teacher to ask for more difficult work, and was told that "she was not ALLOWED to give him chapter books in Kindergarten, and besides, he had an attitude because he KNEW he was smart!".  -- Lynne

My son frequently complained in 2nd grade about the "kindergarten work."  The funniest comment on one of his homeworks came when he was supposed to write “fact families” using the number 11.  So he wrote “11 + 12 = 23, 12 + 11 = 23” etc.  It was marked wrong because “those are not fact families, fact families only go up to 12.”  Hmm, so 11 + 12 = 23 is an opinion?? -- Anne

A gifted teacher chimes in...

I am a gifted education facilitator in a middle school. When I approached the 8th grade math teacher about getting the 8th grade math books for a 6th grade student who had requested them, I was told, "We can't. If we give him these books, he'll just go home and learn it."

I still shake my head every time I think of it. Isn't that what we want all students to do...Learn!!! -- Mrs. Smith

Administrator opinions...

From Massachusetts: "We cannot allow [your daughter] to continue with EPGY because the curriculum is substandard to [our own] elementary math curriculum."  (elementary school's math is better than Stanford's math program?)

"Gifties" take 1st amendment case to federal court

They were "gifted students" who studied their American history textbooks well enough to fight back when officials at Beaubien Elementary School allegedly threatened them with suspension and confined them to their rooms.

Their offense: Wearing a T-shirt with the word "Gifties" on it.

The school library aide told my Kindergartener that she couldn't check out a book because it was above her reading level. I happened to be there, volunteering to restack books. When I showed the aide my daughter's folder with her reading level marked on it (grade 3), the aide huffed that she had only scored that high on the reading test because I had helped her. I was taken aback and assured her that the teacher had given the test, and I hadn't even been at the school that day. She allowed that my daughter may actually be able to read at that level, but then chided me for encouraging her to read "those books". She said my child was missing out on great books at lower levels and besides, the library might run out of books for her. -- Heather

My son's third grade teacher called me at work, mid-day to report that my son was misbehaving terribly during class. When I asked for details she said, "He's deliberately rushing through his work and is finished before I even pass out all the papers." I asked about the grades on these papers... 100%.... When I suggested that she might give him extra work to do or perhaps >gasp< more challenging work she actually told me, "N needs to learn to work down to the level of the other students." ACK! -- LL

During a parent/teacher meeting with my daughter's grade 9 English teacher, we were discussing the importance of finding literature that kids really enjoyed reading in order to engage them more. I mentioned that my 9-year-old son was really interested in Shakespeare and had, in fact, requested a copy of his complete works. I was expecting a positive comment from this English teacher about this... Boy was I mistaken! Her response was: "WHAT? He likes Shakespeare at that age? Tell him to get a life!" -- Bev

I was told the reason my son comes home and asks to do math and work on "serious research" is just a ploy to get more parental attention. -- Tara

My 7-year-old son is doing pre-algebra at home. He is being required to do 4th grade work at school, even though he did that work last year. Last night, he came home with many problems wrong on a "multiplication with pictures" worksheet. When there were 3 groups of 2, he put 2 x 3 = 6, when the teacher wanted 3 x 2 = 6. So much for the commutative property... -- Brenda

My daughter's first grade teacher told me I should let her watch TV instead of playing, drawing, being outdoors or reading. -- Helen, teacher and parent

My daughter's elementary principal, in a meeting before our daughter transferred to her school for 1st grade, insisted that we should not teach our child anything related to a school subject, and we should not answer her questions.  We were depriving her, the principal was adamant, of Nintendo and "a normal childhood." -- Carolyn K., yet again. 

And yes, we did go out and buy a PlayStation after that conversation... which, to this day, is used only than 2-3 times a YEAR.

The same principal, at an IEP meeting, pointed out that the only reason our daughter was asking for more difficult class work and homework was that she was a spoiled child.  Yes, after getting that PlayStation, I guess she was spoiled...

I’m now 43 years old and I still remember an incident from when I was 7 or 8 years old. As was usual, our teacher took us to the school library for the period. I picked out a book which I think was about 30 pages or so. I finished it in about 15 minutes and tried to return it to the desk. The librarian did not believe me when I told her that I had finished reading it. After all, how could I possibly finish a book in 15 minutes when that same book took another student a week to finish? What I wound up telling her was that I was bored with the book. Then I got in trouble for lying because I hadn’t been honest in the first place. The adults were more willing to believe that I was bored than to believe that I had finished the book in 15 minutes. -- Andrea

At my first conference with the teacher, I tried to gently inquire about getting her more challenging work. In class, she was only allowed to read out of the 2nd grade basal reader. I told the teacher that last year she had read Little Women. The conversation went like this:

Me: Well, R is a pretty good reader. Last year she read Little Women.
Teacher (huffily): Well, she couldn't possibly have read the whole thing!
Me: Yes, she did. She read it to the adult volunteers in the classroom.
Teacher (defensively): Well, she couldn't possibly have understood it!
Me: I believe she did. Several of the volunteers would tell me the questions she would ask about it.
Teacher (now totally insulted): Well, you can't possibly think that was appropriate!
Me (slow learner-only then realizing that this conversation is rapidly degrading): Well, how about her math? Last year she was doing 2 and 3 digit addition and subtraction. When will you get to subtraction this year?
Teacher: We will start doing 5 - 3 in January and will make subtraction books then.
Me: What do you do with children who can already do that kind of math?
Teacher: Well, I am the gifted coordinator for the lower grades and I am trained in Math Their Way, so they do math projects now and then. Believe me, your daughter has no special abilities in math.

At that point I had to tell her that I have a master's degree in math and science education at the elementary school level.
Teacher: Well, that must have been a VERY LONG time ago.

I was so insulted that I just had to leave.

I later went to the principal to ask her about what could be done. Remember, I was still trying to be friendly and cooperative.

Me: What do you do with children who seem to know all of the material that is being taught in their class?
Principal: Well, the really bright ones just learn to smile and nod their heads when they know all of the answers.

ARGHHHHHHHH! -- Laura, and many other parents have had very similar conversations!

When I signed my son up for pre-school, age 4, he saw the bear mascot on the sign. Well, we got in a discussion on what a mascot is. I took him to the university and showed him the mascot there, then we went back to the pre-school and looked at the bear again.

This time the principal was there. We got a tour, and I explained that the principal had all the stuffed bears in her office because that was the mascot.  She told me, "they don't understand what a mascot is until at least age 6."

I gave her a strange look, how could she not know what kids could understand, I knew my son understood me, we had had great conversations on the very topic. -- Elizabeth

My son was having "behavioral problems" at school. The teacher seemed to nit pick about every little think he did. I suggested that he was bored and she flat out said NO!! I later had him tested and finally had support that he was both bored in school as well as gifted. I took the information back to the teacher and her response was "So what, I have an IQ of 135!! That does not mean anything." -- Madhu

I ended up at a Catholic college but was uninspired by the required theology courses one year. I noticed that a Lutheran college nearby had a two term sequence "Christian Ideals in Contemporary Society" that sounded much better than Sacrementology etc. So I got approval to take them instead. It was fun to go to two colleges actually. However, the pastor who taught the class was very suspicious. Why was taking these courses at his college? Was I planning to transfer? No. Was I a Catholic? Yes.

He assigned us a report on the theological implications of "Waiting for Godot". I loved the topic and immersed myself in it harvesting all the secondary literature in my college's library and in the large public library system of my suburban New York county. I read, used and cited about thirty books. However, I realized that many of my ideas were not in the secondary literature. For instance, I saw the names of the characters Gogo and Didi have the first syllables of the name for god in the Germanic and Romance languages. That is, the characters were the god they were waiting for.

Well, in this two-year Lutheran college none of my classmates used any secondary literature at all. I did not think much of their reports. However, all thirty of them got A's while I received a C grade. I was very perplexed. I went to the instructor and he explained that my grade reflected the fact that my paper was done by a university professor or professors rather than myself. At the time I had the idea that he imagined some sort of scheme to show that Catholic college students were better than students at his college or something. And that faculty at my college had actually written my paper for me or something. He raised the grade to a B but said that he had not changed his opinion that I had not written it. Other students explained that this instructor was considered one of the best at this college. I felt that I had no further recourse but remained angry for many years about it. -- Charlie

Update: After college, to forestall being drafted into the army during the Vietnam War, I went to NYU for an MBA. I aced most of my courses and was requested to apply for their doctoral program, which I did to my father's horror at my not becoming a hardware retailer and my mother's pleasure. I ended up a tenured professor at St. John's University in New York and have been a Fulbright scholar in Lithuania, published the best-selling textbook in my field in the eighties, and am happy as a crustacean.

My daughter's private school gives timed math worksheets, and she finished the second grade level a while ago (well before anyone else in her grade -- this despite the fact that she has been skipped a grade). The other day she finished the THIRD grade level -- again, before anyone else in second grade. She's worked very hard at this, studying hard every night to memorize her math facts. She was very proud of herself.

So how do they reward her for this achievement? They have her start the third grade level over again, that's how. Despite the fact that she finished that level in just a few weeks and found it very easy, they are going to have her do it again! And they told her she'd have to do it again in third grade, too!

What possible incentive could she have to study that hard again?? -- Ellen

My daughter, at a very early age in her private preschool and at home, had grasped the concept of multiplication and division.  When she entered public school, she had to return to simple adding and subtracting, doing problems by counting beans.  She complained constantly, as we did. Her teacher said she could not do multiplication until the other children in the class -- all 19 of them -- were ready.  Needless to say, we withdrew her from the school. -- Debbie

At our IEP meeting, the gifted teacher was very encouraging about my 4th grade daughter's performance and abilities and enthusiastic about her reading books of her choice while the other students finished their work. But, she said, your daughter gets so involved in the book, that when the time comes to switch from, say, math to spelling, she does not notice and has to be summoned several times. (It's hereditary. Mom used to throw balled up socks at me.) Therefore, the only item in the IEP - the GIFTED IEP - to be given extra attention, was the suggestion by the teacher that she use a "special signal", such as a police whistle or alarm clock, to get my daughter's attention at these "transitional times" so that she could start the next lesson with the class.

Can you imagine? Being singled out in class with a whistle, like a bad dog? 

I suggested to this gifted-child-education-specialist that I did not think that was an appropriate goal for a gifted student. Instead we should promote her innate writing skills. I swear, it took her ten minutes to figure out how to translate that into education-ese so it could go on the form.  -- Debbie

At our IEP meeting for our rising 1st grader, the principal (yes, the infamous "feet too small" principal) stated that "Gifted is like a light switch - it's either on or off."  In one quick statement, she eliminated all the levels of giftedness, and declared all gifted kids identical, contrary to all the research, and even contrary to her own state's gifted education law! -- Carolyn K.

My 7-year-old second grader was accelerated in reading, math, and spelling last year in first grade, but her teacher for second grade refused to do so. When I discussed my daughter's boredom, she replied, "Hey, I told her that the reading book she is using is 3rd grade level. You'd think she'd be satisfied with that..."  (My daughter has been tested at a 5-6 grade reading level). -- K

When my daughter went for her interview to be admitted to school (aged just over 4), the headmistress said, "She reads beautifully, but unless she learns to skip and jump before she starts school, she'll fall behind". Huh?

This girl reads better than most adults I know, has worked out for herself the concept of odd and even, spells intuitively...the same headmistress insists that my daughter will also need to learn phonics and so forth once she starts school...even though she's been reading chapter books, and using correct pronunciation and having full comprehension for 2 years...School's policy is 6 months probation for every new student. Our policy is 6 months probation for the school! When I told the headmistress at the school open day about my daughter's reading, her answer was (and how did I know she would say this?), "Oh yes, we have a child in kindergarten this year who came to us reading already". Yes, but did this child also come to you counting in German, and working out complex maths problems in her head? -- Lisa

I am a family doctor with at least three gifted grandchildren.  Recently, a mom told me that the school wanted her 9-year-old third grader on Ritalin for "ADD."  She described his behavior, and I asked what kind of math and reading he did at home?  She told me about the testing he had last year, and he's probably very or profoundly gifted.  I'm so mad!  What would the teacher do if she had to sit for six hours a day in a third grade class? -- Dr. Lou

In interviewing high schools for my son, I was just told that he doesn't qualify for GT any more because they can't be sure that he's still gifted after 4 years at home!  -- Psam

After my 11-year-old daughter was welcomed into a community college but wanted to continue in a few classes at school, the middle school counselor nixed our plan, saying "she needs a gym credit to get into high school."  The counselor needed me to point out that since my daughter had already won admission into college, we weren't concerned about whether she was admitted into high school. -- Wenda

After years of advocating for subject acceleration for my 9-year-old profoundly gifted son, he received three subject accelerations this year. However this meant he would no longer receive any gifted ed. services. When I asked why, I was told that skipping grades/classes cost the district too much money. 

Read on: "There is no mandate for gifted education services in this state. School districts are not legally required to meet the educational needs of these students nor are the students legally entitled to receive any services. The 150-minute per week minimum applies only to public school districts who chose to participate in the reimbursement program provided by the state." (But this district does participate!)

"Also, it is extremely unusual for school district to agree to promote a 9 year old student to the 8th grade for any amount of time, much less 3 class periods per day. This works out to 750 minutes per week, far exceeding the amount of differentiated instructional services received by most gifted students in this state. Additionally, as your son is in regular junior high classes, this service is not eligible for reimbursement. The district is providing this highly specialized, accelerated service at it's own expense. This is also unusual for school districts in our state. It has been my experience that many districts are reluctant to provide any service, regardless of the size or scope, if that service is not eligible to be reimbursable by the state." -- Kathryn

In 2nd grade after receiving my oldest son's results from the Otis-Lennon, I asked the teacher about the gifted program or accelerated learning. Her response was, it's only one test we can't base anything on that. The same child was tested by a private psychologist and could read and comprehend at a 11th grade level. -- Cheryl

My youngest tested with the Stanford Binet L-M and ranked at the 99th percentile. When I approached the first grade teacher on his inability to read to her (he was afraid of her), her answer was he was immature. When I told her that he's been cooking since age three and was most certainly not immature her response was just look at how small he is. I am five foot one and 95 lbs... I guess I'm immature too. -- Cheryl

My experience with a cooperative experience in high school biology (note, this is decidedly NOT a good use, or even a reasonable use, of the term cooperative learning, but in retrospect, I'm pretty sure this was how this teacher justified the thing): 

We took our *tests* cooperatively. This allowed the teacher to give "legitimate" passing grades to failing people, as long as he grouped them with someone who would set the curve. Guess who that lucky soul was. But, since there was to be no "cheating" (wait to roll on the floor laughing till I get done) we couldn't communicate, actually just all work together, or even actually just let the star pupil do the darn test, no, we passed it person to person every 3 or 4 minutes. So, I would start, write furiously for 4 minutes, sit for 12 while the other three stared at the page and added little to nothing, write furiously for 4 minutes, and so on.

Fortunately, I still set the curve for the rest of the groups, but I still harbor some resentment that I was expected to, and it's been 16 years. 

So, make sure you don't, definitely, let this sort of thing go on. I didn't tell my mom till later; she was justifiably furious when I did mention it much later. -- Lara

My son's first grade teacher told me "Once they know how to read, there's really nothing left for me to teach them." -- Denise

My gifted daughter's second-grade teacher routinely assigns her picture books (despite the fact that she'd read, among other things, the first Harry Potter book in first grade). When I protested, I was told:  "Picture books usually contain very good ideas!"

And chapter books don't??? -- Marcy

My 7-year-old 2nd grade daughter cries as she is made to read the 2nd grade take home reader three times aloud (it's a timed test). I explained to her teacher that she reads chapter books. The teacher agreed to try to send home the 3rd or even 4th grade take home books instead. Well, now she has to do those AND the 2nd grade one!

I explained to the principal that she was just tested independently, is EG (160+ range) and this situation with the take home books is one reason we no longer trust the promise to "enrich in the regular classroom" and want her grade-skipped. His response: "Well, just so you know, next year she will be in 3rd grade, and we have a pullout program for the g/t kids in 3rd grade and above... it will not be the right fit for her, since it, too, requires more work."

I got 2 messages from the principal's statement: First, he said "next year in 3rd grade" meaning, probably, that the grade skip right now is not going to happen. Second, he actually thought her objection to the 2nd grade reader was an objection to more work?! How about, if she is handling the 3rd or 4th grade readers in "adequate" time, WHY must she do "extra" work (the 2nd grade reader which made her cry in the first place) too? -- Considering Homeschooling

My daughter's 3rd grade teacher got into mucho trouble when she gave her kids the 4th and 5th grade spelling books since they found their grade level books too easy. The reason? The middle school teachers didn't offer advanced spelling words. -- Teresa

As a 4 year old in Kindergarten I was fortunate enough to have a teacher the first half of the year that recognized my reading readiness and worked very hard at finding the time to work with me and allowed me to progress at my natural pace. Upon moving to a different school the second half of the year, I wasn't allowed to read AT ALL in Kindergarten...after all that doesn't start until 1st Grade. 1st Grade rolls around and here we go again, starting all over with the same beginning readers that I had already completed a year prior. At this point I was tested for the gifted program and was found to have an IQ of 150 and to have a reading AND comprehension (so much for those who say that early readers have poor comprehension) level of 12th grade, which was as high as they could rate me.

What did my wonderful teacher do upon learning of this? Decided to offer me the enriching plan of reading these beginning readers into a tape recorder. Yea, that's it...that will serve to keep me motivated! -- Cindy

My 4th Grade teacher actually took away the copy of "Roots" that I was reading in class because "Regardless of what your test scores say, you can't possibly understand this book." -- Cindy

My daughter was in first grade and bored to tears. The school district said they could give her second grade work but then by the time she is in second grade she would be doing third grade work. It would be an ongoing stream of confusion for her. They advised us that we would be better off putting her on Ritalin so she would be more accepting of the class. -- Dee

Editor's note: This isn't ridiculous, it is frightening. And not uncommon, which is more frightening. Leave the diagnosis of neurological disorders to the neurologists!

When my son was in first grade, he was very unhappy. He had loved his first three years at the same school, so we wanted to find out why he was miserable. I made a surprise visit to his classroom. My son was sitting with a group of children learning the alphabet. My son had been reading and writing for three years at this point and had read all the classroom materials available to him in the first month of class. When I questioned the teacher about this, she said, "I ran out of things for him to do." It was September! -- Marie

When our son went to the district's "gifted program," we felt our child was still not being challenged. At a parent-teacher conference, we asked the teacher about more challenging work, and we were told, "When his behavior improves, we will give him more challenging work." The reason he was having behavior problems in the first place was because he was finishing work earlier than the rest of the class and was bored. -- Marie

I approached the school district gifted coordinator seeking more math help in the classroom for my 4th grade daughter, or possibly a "pull-out" math program designed specifically for her. This was their response.

"Your daughter is already in our gifted program and as such has no needs that have not been met by this district."

"Your daughter doesn't qualify for the the Middle School Algebra II curriculum and Geometry classes because she only scored at the 85% on our exams in these subjects, she needs to score at the 99% to qualify for them."

Never mind that she scored a 100% on Pre-Algebra and Algebra I, that her 3rd and 4th grade teachers had taught her without the school district's permission. My question to them was this, "Do you mean to tell me that my daughter has to Already Know the material before she's allowed to take the class? Forgive me but isn't that the reason you take a class, to LEARN new material?"

Their response was, "We don't think she's capable of learning and handling that material because she doesn't know all of it yet." Then they quickly changed the subject and left the room. I watched with my mouth hanging open as 4 adults practically ran out of the room. -- Lisa

Our 9-year-old son attends a private school. He usually finishes his work well ahead of the class. For various reasons (which we will never comprehend) he is rarely given additional or more appropriate work to do. In order to fill in time his teacher asks him to "twiddle his thumbs" and has quite literally shown him how to do it while he waits for the rest of the class to finish. -- Trish

The middle school Principal's response to our request to have our son skip a grade was, "But it will hurt his chances for an athletic scholarship."

The child in question is rather clumsy and has no interest in sports! -- Cheryl

On why they won't differentiate or compact the curriculum for my 6th grader, from the classroom and special education teachers who both claim to have gifted kids of their own: "But it's good for him to be bored - it prepares him for real life." -- Dana

At a parent/teacher/principal conference, the principal wanted to get my 1st grade daughter reading, reading, reading. She was a very fluent and avid reader since age 4 so I asked about science, history, math. The principal told me that we don't want to accelerate her in those areas because what good would it do -- in a few years I could tell "all my friends" that my 4th grader can do trigonometry? Yep, obviously he doesn't know what it's like to parent a gifted child -- we brag to all our friends who have "normal" kids - NOT! -- Tracy

At a conference held to discuss accelerating my 1st grade highly gifted daughter, the principal stated that he recently watched my daughter and noted her handwriting was that of a "normal" 1st grader. I felt his comment was severely critical. Knowing that my daughter has beautiful handwriting I later questioned her, and was shocked to find that she had completed the last 2 months of school with her left (non-dominant) hand!

1st grade teacher: "You can't write in cursive because the other kids don't understand it."

2nd grade teacher: "You can't write in cursive until later this year when I teach it!" -- Tracy

A Pre-K teacher explaining why I shouldn't let my 5-year-old read books on her own...

"Well, actually, I really don't think that reading at an early age is such a good thing. I believe it leads to bad eyesight..."

"Developmentally, she's just not ready..." she adds. -- Able

If your daughter reads so much and does so much maths at home, she is going to feel drained of energy.

Your daughter probably reads much better than any 5-year-old but she cannot comprehend what she reads. (The joke is she can answer comprehension questions.)

Don't allow her to watch news programs where they talk about floods, poverty, etc. Introduction of such things at an early age may even make a child become a criminal. (This is because my daughter went and told her teacher that people in Mozambique suffer so much due to floods and poverty.) -- Fred

One of my most vivid memories is of the plural of dwarf. This was in 4th grade - an extra credit question that I desperately needed to pass a spelling test (my worst subject, I could not spell "Spelling" without recourse to the cover of the book). It was my position that the plural of dwarf was dwarves. Mrs. S. insisted on dwarfs. I showed her my copy of The Hobbit - dwarves. Mrs. S. discounted Mr. Tolkien on the grounds that "the British don't speak real English." -- Karen

When I showed the "Gifted and Talented" teacher in my daughter's school the results (over 170) of my daughter's recent WISC and Stanford-Binet LM testing by an independent psychologist, she couldn't believe the school's group tests had been off by more than 50 points.

Her comment was, "Well, if it was up to me I'd let your daughter in the program, but I don't want to open up a can of worms. What if every parent whose child was rejected from the program went out and had their child evaluated independently and came back with results like these?!"

She continued, "I've been doing this for over two years now, and this has never happened before!" -- Mec

My kindergartener has been losing interest in school, and sometimes even feigns illness so as to not go to school. We've had him tested and know that he is gifted. The school recently conducted more testing (as part of a speech therapy evaluation), and they ran out of testing material before they finished the test. His teacher has been giving him some enrichment and has almost exhausted her resources. I recently spoke with his teacher about his dislike of school, and asked her input for making school more enjoyable for him.

The next week, we were informed of a Gifted Services presentation for parents. When we asked about the nature of the meeting we were told by the gifted resources teacher (who knows our son and his abilities) that the meeting was for parents of children referred to the gifted program, and since our son had not been referred, it really wasn't for us. I asked why our son had not been referred, even though I had been speaking to the principal about the gifted program before the school year started.

The response: because our son was expressing some dislike with school, the gifted resource teacher did not want to burden him with entry into the gifted program. She was concerned that this would cause him to dislike school even more, and they did not want to rock the boat! -- Kristen

When I approached the principal about advancing my son, he said "If I do it for him, others will want to advance their kids too." I just couldn't believe this when I heard it, like that's a good reason to torture my son. The principal readily admits my son could easily be advanced. -- Joni

There's a little kid in my kindergarten class. I noticed that he was very bright, and, having had a problem with being too advanced for all my classes through grade school, I arranged to have him tested. He tested almost off the charts for his age, and I went to talk to his parents, telling them that we should probably come up with something to do with him, such as acceleration.

His parents refused. "We want him to have a normal childhood," they said.

Right, like sitting in class bored is really normal for a 5-year-old kid. -- a caring kindergarten teacher

Another thing we talked about in our meeting with the principal was the progress our son was making. One month ago when we first informed them of our son's WISC score, we were assured our son was working at an appropriate high-first-grade level. I told them I honestly felt our son could achieve higher than that, and if they were to really challenge him they might discover he was capable of more.

At last night's meeting I was told his math and reading skills have shown a huge improvement in the last month. When I questioned whether this was due to him finally being presented with more challenging material I was told that was not the reason. That instead, "It's not uncommon for things to suddenly click in a 1st grader". Problem is, last spring he was reading more difficult books than they assigned to him at the beginning of this year.

<SIGH> -- Kimberly

"Not all college classes are hard and don't deserve honors credit. I've had some pretty easy ones when I went to school. You aren't getting honors credit for your classes." -- my HS principal.

Taken out of context, this sounds fine. In context, this is in response to: "I'm taking Calculus and Analytic Geometry III, Calculus Based Physics, English comp and Engineering Mechanics and I'd like honors credit for them." Keep in mind that I earned honors credit for the HS level prerequisites. When I pushed the issue, the response was:

"We can't give you honors credit for classes that other students don't have the opportunity to take." -- My HS principal

The result? I did not receive honors credit for his courses, in a school where honors course grades are weighted, an "A" earning 5.0 instead of 4.0, etc. As a result, I could not earn the first or second highest GPA in this high school, forfeiting an automatic college scholarship.

The irony of the whole situation is that my class was the last class to use that grading system, and that decision was made before I made issue of anything. -- Dan

Last night we met with the principal. He was explaining to us (like we wouldn't already know this) that people have multiple intelligences and one the least important in determining later success in life is IQ. Ok, I knew what he was driving at with that one.

But then he said, "Having a high IQ doesn't mean the child will learn any faster." Huh? Isn't that the very definition of what a high IQ is? He also said that although a young child may read at a high school or college level, they can't comprehend what they're reading. Perhaps some of you should let him talk to your kids! -- Kimberly

Did you know that the speed with which a child completes written work indicates the appropriateness of the work, as well as the child's enjoyment of, or motivation to do, an assignment? Our daughter's school reluctantly allows her to do homework from a distance learning program in lieu of certain in-class activities. While our daughter is radically accelerated in the subject, and demands to continue the distance learning program, she is very slow in any activity involving handwriting.

Yesterday, the teacher informed us that our child works so slowly, so laboriously on this written work it means she is not engaged, not enjoying it, and would clearly rather be with her peers (than do this awful written work her pushy parents are making her do).

You heard it here first.... -- Hope

When I attempted to get my four-year-old's preschool to consider taking her in first grade rather than kindergarten next fall (she reads Beverly Cleary, and does addition and subtraction in her head) the teacher strongly discouraged me for those dreaded "socialization reasons." She added that HER daughter had been accelerated and had graduated, as valedictorian of her high school class, at sixteen -- but she added, "It was really hard for her. She graduated before she got her driver's license!" Insane but true... -- Ellen

I recently received my daughter's report card - she has a perfect average. The teacher's written comment on the card was "I would like to see {student} exert more effort in her work." The principal wrote beside the teacher's comment "Great grades, remember effort counts."

Um... give her harder work, that she asks for all the time, and you will see her come alive and show effort. -- Isabelle

Editor's note: How much more effort is needed to get better than perfect grades???

Her third grade teacher tells me in parent conference, "I don't know what I can do with her. She tested at the 12th grade reading level. This is an elementary school. We don't have any 12th grade materials here." -- frustrated mom

Exclusive private school accommodates gifted students by busing them once a week to the public school pull out gifted program!!! And HOW much are we paying for this school??? -- frustrated mom

Like the time the Special Ed. teacher told me that it didn't matter if my son's needs were being met because "School is really only a very small part of their lives." -- Suzy

My personal favorite is "I have to hold the gifted kids back or they'll be BORED in middle school". Like they aren't going to be anyway. -- Kerry

The best one I have run across so far was from my son's kindergarten teacher, written on his progress report:

rolling eyes "He is very bright and this may distract from his learning."

This was the first time I have ever heard intelligence cited as a learning disability. What she was talking about was his unwillingness to participate in the standard kindergarten activities. I thought it would have been better phrased as:

"He is sometimes bored stiff, and doesn't bother hiding the fact." -- Michael

So far my favorite was "Why should we test her we already know she's gifted," a statement from the evaluation specialist when we wanted to know why our daughter was unhappy in school and the pull out program. -- LeighAnn

My son was refused advancement to 5th grade math because (among other things) he didn't know that the Math problem with 2 boxes with 3 items in each box was supposed to be 2x3 not 3x2. -- Susan

"Three year-olds do NOT get bored!" (From a preschool director)

"Children have to learn how to write before they can learn to read." (From a kindergarten teacher)

And, my favorite: "It doesn't matter when a child learns to read, because they all catch up by third grade." (From a school administrator) -- Lee

In response to the question: "What are the child's academic needs?" M's 2nd grade teacher replied, "Being above grade level, I don't see that she has any real academic needs."

Another 2nd grade teacher tried to put M in her place by saying, "You're not the smartest kid in the school, you know." To which M thoughtfully replied, "I know. There are a lot of smart kids here, and you should be helping them, too. Talk to my mom about it, she knows a lot about what smart kids need." -- Katherine

I was told to be sure to "let him be a child" - like sitting bored to tears in a classroom was part of an idyllic childhood! -- Meredith

Our gifted ed teacher, after looking at my son's results from the Otis-Lennon test (he missed nothing on the test), said "Well, this could be due to the intellectual stimulation at home ... the other kids will probably catch up to him in a year or two." Catch up to a 150+ IQ? -- CAO in Texas

We were told that L had "missed some math fundamentals" in his skip from Kindergarten to second grade. At the ensuing conference, we asked what they were so we could remediate.

Teacher: "Oh, he doesn't know how to do all the Everyday Math activities."
Us: "Does he understand the math behind the games?"
Teacher: "Absolutely, he's one of the best math students in the class. He's asking for more and harder math all the time. But he doesn't know how to do it the way he's supposed to."
Us: "But he's getting the right answers?"
Teacher: "Yes, he's just doing it in his own way."
Us: "You mean he knows how to do the work, he just hasn't figured out the math publisher's pedagogy?"
Teacher and principal: (with great relief that we seem to "understand" the problem at last) "Yes! That's it exactly! He has to learn how to play the games the way the publisher wants him to." -- Anonymouse (a little mouse told me :-)

This 'ridiculousness' is more frightening than the rest, because it is not just something silly someone said, but a school policy prohibiting a gifted child from being taught!

A dear friend of mine with a gifted child has been told that even though they agree that eighth grade math would be the most appropriate, they will only skip "D." up to sixth grade math, because they might "run out" of math courses before he gets to high school and then the poor child would not be able to graduate since he would not be able to get enough "math credits". This is a new "policy" started after this happened to another gifted child just a couple of years ago.

"P.L." ran out of offerings at the local high school and began to take calculus and chemistry at the local college. The high school refused to recognize the college credit and apply it towards his graduation! "D" is the second child (that I know of) that has suffered being held back by what is being bitterly referred to around here as the "P.L." syndrome -- the child is too gifted for the system to cope.

The only good thing to come from all this is that "P.L." was accepted to Harvard this fall despite our local school system's best efforts to keep him from getting a diploma. His parents found a state supported boarding school "only" 6 hours from home for gifted math and science students that had enough courses that "P." could earn the state required number of "credits." -- Sherron

On a note home from the first grade teacher, for getting in trouble:

"Since he finishes his work so fast he either scribbles on his paper or plays with things on his desk which distracts those around him." -- Bridget

As my first grader begged her teacher for something to learn, or even to do, the teacher told my daughter that she had already learned everything she needed to know and that she didn't have to teach her anything more. It was October and apparently the teacher did not intend to offer this child anything more - ever. Most of that day, like others before it, was spent sitting with the child having virtually nothing at all to do. She was not allowed to bring things from home or read a book because it might look too interesting to the other children. Imagine that! -- Becky

My son's kindergarten teacher said she talked with some other teachers and they all agreed that I shouldn't teach my child how to read and write before he starts first grade (in Israel kids learn reading and writing in first grade and not in Kindergarten, and he is now reading and writing in #2 class level). I told her that I didn't teach him reading and writing, he taught himself (which is true), and she said I shouldn't let him progress in it.

Well, how do you suppose you can prevent a gifted 5.5 year old from learning on his own things such as reading or writing? -- Michal

And then there's assorted absurdities...
bullet...the first grade teacher who told a student he read with too much expression.
bullet...the fifth grade math teacher who told us we let our child read too much.
bullet...the principal who explained that our daughter needs to repeat a year in math because she's "too intuitive."

My child, then in 2nd grade, had tested at the 8th grade level on the math subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson achievement test. I tried advocating for him with the math teacher, who considered this for a moment and thoughtfully replied, "I can't teach your child, I have to teach the curriculum." -- Zelda

J. had been asking for more challenging math in school. Specifically, she wanted to learn division. She had been asking for it for three years. We were told not to teach it to her, because then she would be bored when she learned it in school. When we finally had her achievement level tested with out of range tests, though we had been careful not to teach her and she hadn't yet learned it in school, somehow she knew how to do division. When we pointed this out to the Assistant Principal she said, "You see. They will learn despite us!" -- Leslie

"E's first grade teacher did what? Let him do 2nd grade math on his own? Now what am I going to teach him???" - his 2nd grade teacher, who decided he really needed to work on interpersonal problems (due to teasing, frustration, and attitude)

Even the school nurse gets into the act... The nurse said "Don't worry, you only have a cold. It's not like you have a virus or anything." -- Angel

I am 14 years old and have been accelerated one grade level. I am currently in 10th grade. I am taking my second year of college English through the Advanced Placement program as well as Advanced Placement Calculus. But, because after this year I will have already taken the highest level of classes my public high school offers, I will not be able to achieve the required credits for high school graduation. And since I am not old enough to drive to the community college for the English and Math I will have to take next year, I cannot take classes there during the regular school year. This means that I have to take two classes each summer for the next two years. What a reward for my achievement.

When I questioned the logic of it all, my high school counselor told me, "Well, you shouldn't be so smart. It makes it difficult for everyone. If you would have just taken normal classes in middle school, we wouldn't have this problem." -- Lande

At our parent teacher conference, the teacher, who is NOT a psychiatrist, had decided she thought our son had Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. Based on what? Well, he was unusually focused on work (when interested, of course), not very socially adept and sort of solitary, an early reader, a child who enjoyed noticing patterns, and interested in numbers. -- Lara

Editor's note: this is more scary than anything else. Today in the U.S., some educators attempt to diagnose AD/HD, though they have no training as doctors. This incident shows that at least this particular teacher, has moved on to diagnosing other, potentially more serious, disorders.

And don't those symptoms (only a subset of the significant symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, a very real disorder) sound just a little like the characteristics of a gifted child?

In kindergarten my son colored a picture of a seal with the letter "S" at the bottom representing the sound for "S". The paper had a large handwritten admonishment not to use pencil on a "coloring" paper. The seal was colored in with crayon, but J had made stripes along the "S" in pencil. As I discussed his papers with him, he said "This S looks like a snake and that starts with S and so do the stripes I drew on him." I hope his creativity never gets squashed like his teacher's has. -- Sond

In our school district if a child wants to grade accelerate s/he has to take an achievement test. If the child has never been taught the material then s/he has to score 90% to pass that grade. If the child has had prior instruction at that grade level then s/he ONLY has to make a 70%. (The premise, I assume, is that teachers make kids dumber?) -- Name Withheld

My son's giftedness was impossible to hide. He'd recognized the entire alphabet and all numbers at 7 months of age, at 4 figured there should be a way to mount a toothbrush on a motor and fasten it to bathroom cabinets for people who couldn't use their hands or arms, at 7 he figured out negative numbers in the back seat of a car in the dark--addition, subtraction and multiplication.

The next month his 2nd grade teacher told me she couldn't see signs of giftedness in him. Rather, she thought he might be somewhat retarded because he talked out of turn, read the dictionary instead of doing monotonous drills, had sloppy handwriting, wouldn't stay seated, and forever talked or sang to himself about the wonderful facts of the world he was discovering. The book he liked most to read at the time was the l984 Encyclopedia of World Diplomacy, a book that lists everything anyone wanting to travel, do business, or have influence in a foreign country needs to know. It didn't dawn on her that this might indicate giftedness. Instead, she drew circles on the blackboard one inch higher than his nose and made him stand for hours with his nose in the circle -- as punishment for every sign of giftedness he showed!

Then in February she called me crowing, "You won't believe what your son did today!" He had instantaneously, in his head, figured out how to determine how old George Washington would be that year and gotten the correct answer. That, she figured, might indicate he could be gifted. And that made him HER discovery of the year... -- Michele

Our family of 3 highly gifted sons has been homeschooling through our local district for many years. My oldest is finishing seventh grade now and attending the local community college part time. We scheduled an interview with the independent study director of our public schools to determine the path to follow for a high school diploma. Since my son will be finishing Calculus C (EPGY) this summer, we asked about math credits. The administrator told us our son would not qualify for a diploma because he could not get enough math credits from the high school when he was high school age! He then told us that all the high school and college level courses he had already taken would not "count" because he was too young when he took them! He suggested there was no way to earn a high school diploma in our district for our son and we should just help him "ease" into college! -- Doug

One especially memorable Ridiculous Thing that I recall happened to me in middle school. The class had been assigned papers to write the previous week; the corrected papers had been handed back out, and the teacher announced that we were to spend this class period correcting our grammar, mechanics and usage and making fair copies of the corrected papers. I checked my paper, and, as I'd expected, I found that I had made no errors. (I was the daughter of an English teacher; at home, I graded other students' 12th-grade grammar exercises!) So I went up to the desk and asked the teacher whether I might go to the library.

The teacher stared at me. "Why, no, Meredith. Weren't you paying attention? You need to correct your mistakes and make a fair copy of your paper."

"Ma'am, " I said, "this *is* a fair copy. I made no mistakes."

"Nonsense!" the teacher snapped. Roughly, she grabbed my paper, crumpling it a bit, and looked it over. Just as I'd claimed, she found no mistakes.

"May I go to the library?" I asked again.

"Certainly not!" the teacher said. "You have been a very bad girl. The only reason you made no mistakes was that you chose to write a paper which was too easy for you. You are both lazy and disobedient, and I won't stand for that in my class, do you hear me? You sit back down, and you write a fair copy of that paper, and I want to see your pen moving every minute of this class period, you hear me? And, next time, make more mistakes!"

I wish I were making the above up, but I'm not. -- Meredith

After telling his teacher that he was bored with math, my Grade 3 son brought his Grade 2 (different school and teacher who believed in doing more than the "bare minimum") math book in to prove that he had done all the work in Grade 2 he was now expected to do in Grade 3. The teacher angrily looked at us and said "It's wrong when teachers teach more than the curriculum demands.... It makes teaching too hard for the next teacher." -- Bev

I remember when my wife came back from the first parent teachers evening meeting when they had the following to say about our eldest who was in nursery, "X, well what can we say, X is X, academically he is fine, but he has no imagination and he doesn't know how to play."

It's a shame they did not realise that he was highly gifted. -- L

A friend's son received a progress report with this written on top: "Your son reads too much at home. Please have him read less." Great advice from a teacher!!

My personal experience at my son's school that has a happier ending. Although he has been able to read since he was four, he only chose picture books from the school library. When I asked him why, he told me Kindergartners could only choose books to a certain line on the floor in the school library - not one centimeter further! - so he chose the ones with the best pictures. When I asked the librarian about the rule, she told me it was because they didn't want the kids to go through all the books too early or they'd have nothing to read when they were older. The rule has since been changed, and we've started anonymously donating new books for older readers. -- Barbara

We didn't get the "you won't be able to get your driver's license" argument when my son (8.8, rising 4th) skipped first grade...we got it when we asked for more challenging math in 3rd grade!

His teacher told us that if she gave him 4th grade math, he'd finish the school system's math sequence as a sophomore, and then I'd have to quit my job to drive him to the university because he wouldn't be old enough to drive yet. Yup. We won't give your son a subject acceleration this year because you might have to drive him to school eight years from now. -- Lori

A couple of times my 3rd grade son brought in math he'd done at home for fun (4th - 6th grade level SolveIt worksheets and problems he asked me to create). Her comment: "That's nice. You'll learn how to do that in 5th grade." (completely ignoring the obvious!) -- Lori

Discussion with school:
They: "6th grade math is out of the question, hormones and all. We may consider 4/5. If we put her into 6th grade math and science what will we do next year?"
Me: "Let's not worry about the future let's concentrate on meeting her needs this year."
They: "Exactly, that's our philosophy."

I brought copies of her 6th grade math final (95%), and all the strands she's covered with "weak" areas highlighted for the 3/4 math teacher.
Teacher: (sniff) "My this is quite (pregnant pause) impressive." (not in a friendly tone).
Me: "Actually, the intent is to provide you with information on what areas she has already covered so that you feel comfortable in accelerated placement."
Teacher: "Thank you for sharing this with me. I'll be sure and look it over, but I can't make any promises."
Teacher: "Please leave the education of your daughter to us...it's our job."
Followed by: "Maybe your daughter needs to learn how to slow down." -- Kristine

(Editor's note: No, Kristine and Carolyn K. are not the same person, nor do they live in same school district, or even the same state. But their conversations are practically identical! Do these folks listen to what they are saying to us? And where do they learn the same, ridiculous rhetoric??)

At a conference of teachers and administrators, full of professionals against a one-grade skip for our daughter: "You've got to trust us, we're educators!" -- signed I'll Trust Them As Far As I Can Throw Them

We were told that K was not ready for 1st grade because she sat quietly and read books all day. The teacher said "We have to break her of this habit". SIGH! -- Teresa

And just when you think you've heard them all... rolling eyes

The principal and counselor met almost-5 year-old A. for the first time as a rising 1st grader in March of Kindergarten, after A. scored 91 of 93 on their kindergarten readiness test, and well into 2nd and 3rd grade on their Woodcock Johnson. They wanted her to repeat Kindergarten, and were ready with the standard arguments about size, but were thwarted by meeting her - she's off the top of the charts for her age. The principal thought fast, and pointed out that her feet were too small for first grade. Yup, you read right. Her feet are too small. Seems all the other kids have much larger feet. She would be at a disadvantage.

I looked down at my women's size 6 sneakers, and agreed, yes, she did inherit my small feet, but they still seem to hold her up... no, I didn't think fast enough to say that.  My husband and I thought of it later, on the way home.  I must admit, in the heat of the moment, I just stared at my small sneakers. -- Carolyn K.

We moved from the 'shoe size' district, but the new district isn't any better. It's now recorded in her IEP that she is immature. There are five pages of reasons from sitting on the floor during free reading (when they're allowed to sit anywhere in the room) to chewing on her pencils (except that they were someone else's pencils, and someone else's teeth prints) , but my favorite is "She takes too long in the bathroom." Can you believe it?? (We found out later in the school year that she was going to the bathroom in that same class each day because the teacher took her other daily bathroom opportunities away so that she could do "pretesting" chapter by chapter in math... following which, she was not permitted to move ahead, despite all A's on the pretests!)  -- Carolyn K., again.

And just when we thought we had heard it all with A... The daycare / kindergarten that skipped A. from pre-k to kindergarten for social reasons back when we were hesitant about such a move, has declared that A's little sister J. is developmentally delayed. Odd, since they don't seem to have any other 2 and a half year olds that are reading a few words or talking with such an advanced vocabulary, nor as capable on the play set - she's taught them all, even the teachers, what the brand-new rock climbing features are used for. When pressed, the director commented that she "would hold J. back a year to make up for their school accelerating A. a year. Huh? -- Carolyn K., yet again.

"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity." -- Asimov's Law, also attributed to Robert Heinlein (Logic of Empire, 1941)

Please contact Carolyn K. before reprinting any part of this page.

Last updated December 01, 2020

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