Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I have taken the liberty of reproducing some of the arguments in favor of keeping the label in an effort to address them in a single posting. I have edited the arguments for brevity.
Argument 1: “The problem is, if you balkanize the identification process by sending each family its own letter with its own education plan, you abandon the sole unifying label, which creates an easily identified affinity group of families, and instead, cast off each family alone to advocate individually for their student(s).” [from Ian DW]
Response: There will still be a group of parents with children receiving a myriad of above-grade services, with services clearly defined and articulated. Nothing precludes them from getting together and advocating for their children. Yes, they can join a GT organization, advocate through their PTA, etc.
Those children not identified for above-grade services will have specific articulated interventions. Parents of these children, if they so desire, can band together as well and advocate as a group. Presently, the "balkanization" which exists cannot be quantified. The "label" by no means represents a group receiving uniform services.
Argument 2: “I can foresee MCPS providing nothing more than letters to parents full of encouraging boilerplate language with no real instructional impact. (For an example of such, see the MCPS curriculum frameworks, and compare that expansive language to the work your child is actually doing …” [from Christine K]
Response: The absence of a label will be contingent upon the presence of a highly informative letter that will not only provide parents with information that has been withheld to date, it will spell out with great specificity the tests, the criteria, and an explicit scope and sequence of accelerated and enriched instruction with a statement of the grade level of each.
MCPS will still be counting those receiving services. The lack of a label will not deter counting. However, I pointed out, there is an attempt to keep the count out of the public eye. That must be addressed in the policy side of the issue.
Argument 3: The Parent Letter will have its greatest impact on the most disadvantaged students.
Response: Yes, in the most beneficial way. The LABEL benefits parents who know how to work the system. The Parent Letter empowers even those who do not know how to leverage the system.
Argument 4: Gaming the system.
Response: Today, the system is gamed with impunity. Parents argue on many a listserv as to the selection criteria, tests used, etc. That will come to a crashing end with the explicit information available in the letter. Gaming by schools will also be difficult when there is a possibility of parents banding together and comparing notes.
So, let us move forward with an alternative to the vague and undefined LABEL. Let us embrace the Parent Letter, shown here in a very basic form.