I find that I don't like not being the youngest kid in the game. In school, I was always younger than my grade peers; likewise, college. As a staff member at Penn State, not only was I younger than the other secretaries, I was younger than the grad students.

At Dell, there are whelps with wetter ears--and more marketable skill sets and higher pay, which is probably what is actually bugging me.

I've always been bad about aging. You can't be precocious if you're not young--unless maybe you manage to get Alzheimer's in your 50s. When people object to tracking in schools (splitting kids into sections according to ability), I think about my own inept schooling, which *was* tracked, but not tracked enough, apparently. I was "bright," "smart" (pronounced like an epithet), "gifted," whatever. Operative word being "was." Forced to learn to get along with meatheads rather than pushed to exceed my own abilities, I let them catch up to me.

I listen to NPR and read sci-fi instead of watch television, and I read Stephen Hawking rather than Danielle Steele, so maybe I'm a little "above average," provided you use the right measure. But I'm certainly not a phenomenon. The results of those "gifted" classes are simply the stigma of having been a Smert-Kid and a very real sensation of feeling my synapses harden.

As much as the Allentown School District was incompetent, CTY was brilliant. Without question, it is what got me through adolescence. CTY's model should be widely implemented: Find intelligent children and give them wings. In fact, I bet if you stop telling them to be quiet and conform, all kids can fly.

I'd like to object to the term "gifted" here. "Gifted" by whom, God? So all my talent and inquisitiveness were bestowed upon me by some magical power? And kids who don't manifest this potential for great nerdom were passed over by God, didn't warrant Its blessing, and shouldn't bother trying to be smart, since they lack a silver Good Witch Kiss on their foreheads?

How about "special ed"? Shouldn't smart kids get a specialized training program, too? Well, in fact, they do--it falls under the same jurisdiction as the mental retardation classes, interestingly enough. Both groups get an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and their funding comes out of the same bucket. Now, say it with me:

Doesn't *every* kid deserve an individualized education plan?

Our schools love mediocrity because it is easy to stamp, file, and ignore.

Do your kids deserve a mediocre education?

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