Why Not to Move Gifted Middle School-Bound Students

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Readers continue to discuss plans to assign gifted and talented students who would have gone to Kilmer Middle School in Vienna to a new GT center at Luther Jackson Middle School, which has a much higher percentage of low-income and minority students. Two views appear below.

Those interested in boundary change and race might read a remarkable piece by novelist Shauna Grice, writing about her own child's schools this week in my washingtonpost.com column.

Dear Extra Credit:

What bothers me the most about the middle school boundary change proposal is that Kilmer (a Cluster II school) has many Cluster I gifted and talented students from Forestville, Great Falls and Colvin Run elementary schools. These are the children who commute the farthest (some for over an hour), yet they remain at Kilmer under this boundary change, while the children who live close by in Vienna get moved to Falls Church.

It is wonderful for Luther Jackson to be getting a GT center, and I wouldn't want to take that away from them, but Cluster I could benefit from another GT center as well. It seems more practical to move the three McLean/Great Falls schools that feed into Kilmer with 50 students back to their cluster and their community, rather than move five Vienna schools with their 57 students out of their neighborhood school.

This way, most GT students would remain together from third through eighth grade, and many would stay together through high school, providing continuity and stability in their lives. The main thing that is lacking from the Fairfax County public schools' staff boundary change plan is the well-being of the students. It solves the FCPS facilities problem but does not make the students and their educational, emotional or transportation needs a priority. That needs to change.

Tracey Zillian


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