Friday, December 15, 2006

 

Prodigies, Policies, and Policing

My college was built on the assumption that the students would be at least 18 (or 17 with a late birthday). My college is not unique in this. We've bent the rule from time to time to allow some particularly strong high school students to take a class here and there, with generally positive results. We're even moving in the direction, with some of the school districts, of regularizing a flow of high school seniors to take afternoon classes with us, in hopes of fending off 'senioritis.' We've also started working with local homeschoolers of high school age, offering courses like Spanish or chemistry, again with generally positive results.

Now we're starting to get calls about 8-year-olds. Literally. For regular courses, not special summer programs for kids or swim lessons.

This worries me.

Subject matter, oddly enough, is the least of my concerns. The prepubescent applicants tend to cluster in math, science, and music, where the subject matter generally isn't R-rated. If a kid is capable of making differential equations do handstands, bully for him. It's all the other stuff that worries me.

Most of our internal policies and procedures are based on the assumption that we're dealing with students directly, rather than through their parents. With the 18-and-up crowd, this makes sense. With 8-year-olds, it really doesn't.

We don't have a “dropoff and pickup area.” We don't allow parents in classes with their kids, unless the parents have also registered (and paid for) the class. Our counselors are not trained in pediatric disorders. Our medical staff does not include a pediatrician. We don't act in loco parentis. Our professors, with some exceptions, have not been trained in child or adolescent psychology, or in the learning styles characteristic of children. We don't have the security measures in place that elementary schools do to protect children against predators. We have an open campus – if they don't have to park, anybody can come to campus and just wander around. We don't have separate restrooms for children. We don't have the staff to provide bodyguards. We are not physically capable of 'lockdown mode.' We simply have not organized ourselves for the physical protection of young children, because that was not who we were designed to serve.

Add to that the general coarseness of much informal student conversation, much of which I would not advise anybody to let a young child hear. And we absolutely cannot go around policing private conversations among students, other than the usual prohibitions against threats of violence.

I've suggested that we offer access to online courses, where the subject matter makes sense, so the child could still be under the physical supervision of his parents while getting the intellectual stimulation of college-level work. There are times when that can work, but certain subjects just don't lend themselves easily (certain upper-level math, where notation is the issue) or at all (music performance, some lab sciences).

We've received legal advice to the effect that we can't do anything that smacks of 'age discrimination,' whether on the high end (mandatory retirement) or the low end (a minimum age to take classes). This strikes me as absolute madness. Young children are not just shorter adults. They have different needs, and require different kinds of support, than we can offer.

Normally, I'm in favor of offering talented students all the academic challenge they can handle. I'm just not convinced that throwing the child prodigy into an institution built entirely for adults is the way to do that. God forbid, one kid gets abducted, and the whole thing comes crashing down. I say set a minimum age of, say, 16, and take our chances in the courts. I don't want to be the one on the stand explaining to the nice judge why we don't have hidden cameras in the study carrels or bathrooms, or why nobody stopped the sex offender from enrolling in the same class as the 9 year old.

Comments:
Can your lawyers make up a letter that explains these concerns to the parents?
 
Are there that many genius 9 year olds?

Or are they from Lake Wobegon?
 
Can you effectively direct them toward online classes that are challenging? We have an online high school that also offers AP classes and because there is no physical meeting space, you wouldn't have to deal with those issues. Will be glad to provide the name if interested - they can offer classes throughout the country.

Good luck! It takes an administrator to point out the obvious!
 
We've had faculty enroll their 13- and 14-year-old kids and boy is that awkward. No, your kid isn't keeping up...
 
I can't imagine that the university's legal counsel can't come up with a convincing argument that the university, while it is able to create a safe environment for adults, is unable to do the same for minor children.

I can't imagine a parent would balk at the idea that their 9 year old would be better off with an online curriculum at the college level (with a faculty adviser available at reasonable times for advice) than sitting in a classroom with a bunch of students at least 9 years senior to them, and with an unknown level of social responsibility.

I wouldn't want my child, no matter how precocious, hanging out with any 18 year old, unless I knew the family AND felt comfortable with them all.

Parents can be so blind. See the forest, folks.
 
Wow, there are some parents out there...who should have their heads examined.

I used to have a "blended" music studio of my college music students and younger kids. Our recitals were multigenerational, and so were some of our studio classes classes, simply because I didn't have enough university students to make the classes worthwhile otherwise. I held all these classes at my university and called them "community outreach," with my ecstatic department chair's blessing. But I supervised everything personally and never let a kid out of my sight. Parents were expected to supervise their own kids (and bring food for all of us!). And only the college aged students earned credit. (The rest paid me privately.)

And yes, I had an 8 year old who played better than many of the college students. But that's very, very unusual. And it would NOT work in just about any other classroom in the country. Mine was a very rare exception. And my little 8 year old genius, no matter how well he played, did NOT belong in a regular college classroom.

What are parents thinking?
 
If you've never read the story of Brittany Benefield (and all those allegations were settled out of court, but even in the hypothetical they're frightening enough), you need to.

I'm scared to death enough of 15-year-olds on a college campus, to say nothing of 8-year-olds. You'd better have more than a few protections in place for them, or else you're careening towards truly dangerous places...
 
My grandmother graduated high school in 1928, when she was 16. Vassar refused to take her until she was at least 17. Of course, that was 80 years ago, and it's a residential-type college.

A good friend of mine, 9 months older, graduated from college the same year I graduated from High school. But his district had special programs for advanced students, and he went to Brandeis for his undergrad.

The problem is that there is no middle ground for these kids. If there is no school in the area that provides for that kind of advanced learning, what do they do? It seems a waste to refuse them education that they so clearly need and want, but your points are all valid concerns, and important legal issues.

What would be best for these kids? Well, if there really are more than one or two of them in a blue moon, then a local initiative to start a school program for them would be in order. If not? Then legal counsel and admin *ought to* (not "can," not "will," and certainly not "can afford to,") find a way to admit the kids. Maybe be requiring that their parents simultaneously enroll, with more flexible limits for auditing if the class is beyond their ability. Something. If the parents are looking to the college, then the child is likely beyond their ability to homeschool. It just seems a shamefor this kids to get lost in an inadequate system.
 
But when they're EIGHT? They really need to take calculus then? I'd say 16 is a good deal different.

These parents need their heads examined, I'd say.

It does seem like a college is an inappropriate environment for children who still have crossing guards. Is there any way your legal department can weasel out of this?
 
Each semester I have several students who are 14-16 yrs old, on campus and probably a few more online (I'm never quite sure how old some of them are). Minimum age here is 10th grade so we don't have 9 yr olds yet. They are dual enrolled from local high schools or home schooled. Overall they are pretty good students. They are surprisingly well socialized. But they are terrible with deadlines. The parents push them to do this and often they are not prepared for college level work. This is a growing trend and we better all get used to it.
 
What would be the problem with a policy that said "No unaccompanied children under 16" or whatever the lower age was -- just require that younger kids be accompanied by a parent or babysitter at all times. This would probably keep the kids out, but for a real math prodigy or whatever who could actually do the work, having their mom sitting in the back of the room seems to cover the school against liability.
 
I took calculus II/III at the local state university, when I was 14. I could have handled it earlier (I'd finished HS math 2 years previously), but my parents didn't think I was ready yet to handle a college classroom. I've wished for years that they'd let me take it earlier, when it would have been more of a challenge. As it was, I spent most of my time drawing pictures, waking up enough to ace the exams. I'm not trying to boast -- what I'm trying to say is that there ARE kids, for whom the local schools have nothing to offer (mine didn't even offer AP calc) who really, really need some sort of intellectual stimulation. And very often, the schools are reluctant to provide it, especially in elementary school. My mother was told 'Your child needs to learn to be bored. Maybe you should put her on Ritalin, she seems a bit hyper.' If the school's reaction is this, and the child is genuinely ready to take calculus (and I do mean genuinely ready, not being pushed into it for parental ego-gratification, but craving intellectual stimulation at the level his/her parents cannot offer), and the school's reaction is thus, can you honestly blame them for resorting to trying to enroll them in college?

Most of these parents (not all, but most) would much, much rather have their child in the company of others of roughly the same age group, but for some kids, intellectual stimulation and average kid of same age group really don't go hand in hand.
 
Alix r, there are programs for gifted youngsters, even ones that will get them into college in a safe and child-friendly way.

The Early Entrance Program at Cal State LA, for examples (http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/eep/index.php ) takes children as young as 11. Kids enroll in the program, and take regular classes at the school, but are also supervised and provided with age-appropriate accomodations (separate eating places, regular time with other children their age, specialized counseling, a concrete place for their parents to drop them off and pick them up, etc.) As a high school is also physically located on the campus, there is no dearth of same-age children around, either. I got into it when I was 13, just months before their cutoff date (14 year olds are "too old").

(Un)fortunately, my parents freaked out at the last minute and pulled me, as they didn't want their thirteen-year-old daughter wandering around a college campus, well-organized for children or not. I was incredibly upset, as I'd always wanted to skip High School entirely and go straight to college (and going to Under Funded, Under Performing Public School wasn't helping), but... it turned out to be for the best. I think my academic development would have been better served there, and I do think it was a good program that served children well, but I personally was not socially adjusted enough to have thrived as I should have.

(Do note that I mean that it's a good program, and if you have a child who is normally socially developing, they should be perfectly fine in a well-designed program. I was not, however, normally socially developed at that time, and would have emerged loonier than anything Warner Brothers could've dreamed up.)

That said... I think that's your best bet, Dean Dad. Point out (gently) to the parents of children who are way too young for that environment that although you cannot provide (all of those things), there are a number of programs around the country (okay, a small number, but a number nonetheless), and if the parents truly want to help their gifted child get ahead, they'll go find the programs that are designed to help them do that.

A well-designed packet of information (with a hefty waiver attached) would also help. "So you wanna enroll your pre-teen?" A list of classes that are available (so no, I don't care how precocious your child is, they can't take Survey of Western Sexuality, or the History of the Snuff Movie) with 'kid-friendly hours' (i.e. not at regular school-time, but not too late in the day), with honest (and detailed) descriptions of what would be required for the courses. Is the kid going to need to come back to campus for labs at odd hours? Does it involve working with partners outside of class time? (If so, where will they meet? Are you really going to have these college-age students come to your house?) Is grading attendence-heavy? (Heaven forfend a soccer match should be moved, or that flu find its way to someone's 5th grade classroom) and so on. Be specific and detailed. (I know, and delegate the making of this packet to someone with more free time on their hands, but we're dreaming here)

Add to that a list of "Things you should consider." List all of the things you listed here (though you may soften it a bit). Mention (proudly!) all of the resources you do have for kids of certain ages, and your wonderful online learning segments. Then mention all of the things you can't provide, and tell them why most of those things are solved in some way by your solution of choice (online learning, delaying enrollment until the child is older, sending them to a targeted program).

Then, at the very end of the packet, your enrollment forms, a statement limiting your liability ("because we don't have a pediatric nurse on staff, we aren't liable for any cases of the mumps which may suddenly decimate the under-ten population"), and a statement of understanding. That is, something like: "I the undersigned do hereby certify that I wish to enroll my child ________________, age ______ in Dean Dad's Community College. I understand the preceding statement of liability, and do hold the college harmless for any acts relating to the aforementioned structural conditions."

Preferably followed by an arrangement of transportation section (optional, not so much legally binding as 'a part of the application process that proves that we're not just being used for daycare, and helps the parents figure out all the things they might not have considered before'). A nice, easy to read worksheet having them fill in when the class starts and ends, and the weekly schedule of their household around that. Some boxes for names of who might pick the kids up, and a page of emergency information for the professor/school. The professor is under no obligation to take it or use it, but it's nice to have on hand.

I recognize that all of this would be ridiculously time-consuming for you. It's the kind of thing I'd *adore* doing (I like setting up systems, I enjoy contract drafting, and I'm very, very good at both research and creating forms that are easy for people to read and understand). If done properly, it would also solve most of your age discrimination issues. There is a process, you allow people to go through it, the information is widely available, and anyone who manages to complete all of the steps is well informed of the risks and has legally agreed not to hold you responsible for anything outside your control, provided you take all reasonable precautions.
 
Our community college system has a Running Start program, which allows (encourages?) students in their latter high school years to take our courses. I don't know if there's a minimum age, but I haven't seen one younger than 16.

Upon applying, the parents sign a waiver that very clearly says that the students are treated as adult college students. That means, for instance, FERPA rules that say we can't reveal student performance info to a parent or other family member apply. (Okay, so some parents don't read this until an instructor explains that they're not going to talk about little Johnny's failing grade.)

I wonder if your lawyers could craft a fairly intimidating statement that points out all the things that *won't* be like school, and the parents of minor children have to sign that before you admit them?
 
Expanding the on-line offerings sure sounds like the easiest way to address this problem, especially since it also serves your ordinary students.

Can't your IT folks work on improving that math notation problem for distance learning? Math is a field where you get a lot of prodigies, so that seems like a good place to start. LaTex is a free, open source program that produces as elaborate math notation as you could possibly want into pdf files, which should be insertable into any web-based distance learning platform. Would any of your math faculty get on board with that?
 
I don't know where you are, but the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology may be a good place to go look for alternate programs.
 
Hey, have you all heard of
Erik Demaine
? Just to say that sometimes things work out pretty well. But he wasn't 9, he was 12 (I'd heard 13) when he started at the University of New Brunswick.

(He's also quite a good lecturer. I audited his class a few years ago.)
 
What about the other students in the class?I had a young child at home when I was at C.C., yet I would have raised hell if there had been children in my classes. It was bad enough that there were 16 and 17 yr-olds in the English courses who simply could not keep up with the discussions, or would cry if we read something marginally offensive. It seems to me that childen that young, while talented, should not be given a novel opportunity that could prove detrimental to the learning of the actual college students.
 
At our community college, parents have to be on campus anytime a student under the age of 16 is on campus. We can't sit in on the classes, but we have to be here. So I drop my son off at his class and wait for him to get out while reading a book or hitting the library.
 
This is a growing issue at my campus, too. Two key problems: first, most very smart kids, or even genius kids, don't have the critical thinking skills or emotional development required for college courses. (I'm thinking here of liberal arts, I suppose--calculus might be a different story.) They understand the texts, they follow the lectures, but they can't synthesize information in the ways they need to. A 16 year old in a comp class? Not such a problem. A 12 year old? A problem. I can't teach the class the way I usually teach with a kid in the room--leaving aside the critical thinking skills mentioned above, I can't talk about many of the essays or poems or whatever in a way that a 12 year old should be exposed to. The argument could be made that it's the parents' call, just like watching an R-rated movie, but I would be so uncomfortable that my presentation would be stifled to the detriment of the rest of the class.

Second, and even more urgent, is the parent problem. Instructors do not want to and should not have to deal with Mom and Dad. 10 year old gets a C on the midterm? Mom's in the teacher's face and then yells at the dean when the teacher won't allow do-overs. This is bad for everyone involved, the kid most of all.

I would support a 16-and-up, no-parents-allowed policy. A very select few kids would be hurt by this--but the rest of the campus community would benefit, in my mind.
 
The community college I go to has many 16- and 17-year-olds, and a few 14- and 15-year-olds. It seems to work out fairly well.

It would be an exceptional kid who was able to benefit from community college classes at age 9, but there are a few such (mostly math nerds) and in my opinion they should be allowed to take classes. Usually younger kids have their mothers wait outside the classroom.

I do agree that professors shouldn't have to be changing their curriculum for the younger students. If a young student can't handle the material in the course, he shouldn't take the course. Mostly the very young ones are in math or science where that's not an issue.

- Cardinal Fang
 
I second the recommendation that you turn your blog into an informative disclaimer. Include an unguided tour of campus for the parents, and mention the upside (Putnam champion mathematician and professor by 25) and downside (girl at UAB).

We have a largish dual-enrollment program, but some of the classes are taught at the high schools. We stick with FERPA as written, AFAIK. I'm surprised yours is small.

A cousin is a counselor at another CC that has a huge program (probably in lieu of a local IB program) that gets them an AA and a diploma at the end of grade 12. They teach some HS classes on the CC campus, so the kids don't travel back and forth and probably have a social cohort around them.

I had a female HS student in my physics class (and a night lab) last year. Not nearly what you blog about, but I was aware of it. It helped that I had done something similar (calculus at night at the local CC while in HS), so I could relate to her being around significantly older students.

I would be more concerned about a 10 year old who had been home schooled than one who had attended a public high school and graduated, because of the socialization issues. However, in this situation every kid would be a special case.
 
"Age discrimination?" What is the world coming to.... I starting taking college classes (while still in high school) when I was 16. It was a little awkward at first, but I got used to it. I think there's enough common ground between 16 and 18, but any younger than that simply is not feasible. I definitely think the cutoff age should be 15 or 16, because now, as an instructor at a state Uni, I have a whole other perspective. I have enough trouble with students complaining about their grades and whining...I can't imagine dealing with parents too! I like many of the suggestions posted in other comments, and I would encourage you to talk to the parents about these concerns. I'm sure that most of them will see reason.
 
As a professor, I see a handful of excellent 14-16 year olds each year and one of my best students started university at age 11. I started university at age 14, and I wasn't just keeping up, I was the one setting the curves. All of the students I've had in those age ranges had excellent critical thinking and synthesis skills and were typically at the top of their entering classes.

As for parents, we're already dealing with them for traditional age students. I know I'm not the only one, as I've read over a dozen articles like this Washington Post one in the last five years: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/20/AR2006032001167_pf.html
 
Addendum:
The Dean should also worry about the welfare of the faculty. A female calculus professor discovered the reason one student stopped coming to class by reading the newspaper: He had been convicted of rape. Did I mention that it was a night class?
 
I agree with the plan of having the parent on campus with the child at all times, waiting out in the hall for the class to end.

Or this -- why couldn't the parents of this eight year old take the money they would have spent on tuition for the classes and just hire a tutor with expertise in that area?
 
I'm not sure if there are special rules for education or what local state laws are, but federally age discrimination only applies in the work place for 40 and over. I wouldn't recommend saying it, but you can discriminate to your hearts content because someone is under 40.
 
My 15 year old home schooled daughter was just admittted to the local community college. They limit her to 2 classes per semester. I was given a talk about the problems of her being on campus by herself if class is suddenly canceled (she carries a cell phone now), classroom discussions (she will only take math and science until she is more mature) and parents not having access to students' records.

We also just received her PSAT scores where as a 10th grader she did better than 95% of the college bound juniors, it was recommended she challenge herself with AP classes.

Also daughter will be picked up from campus after each class, not expected to hang around meeting older kids and dealing with guys too old for her.
 
I agree that very young students are a shocking phenomenon and most parents would never consider the idea, but keep in mind that these kids are very, very rare. Their parents have often tried all the other suggestions -- AP, online, gifted programs, tutors -- but eventually you run out of options, and the kid deserves an education.
I have no problem with rules requiring parents to escort very young kids to their classes. However, once in the class, the kid is on his own. No parental communication with the professor, no help with note taking, etc. -- otherwise they're just not ready for the environment. Furthermore, the class content should NEVER be modified because of a young student. "Adult" subjects are what they're there for -- at the parent's risk, and the parents have the ultimate decision to exercise good judgment.
I highly recommend against setting a minimum age of 16. That's just too arbitrary. I'd tie it to the state's minimum age for a minor to be left alone. Here in Maryland, that's 12. Under that age, the parent must be present.
My son started at a community college at 12. He's not a typical math/science prodigy type, either -- he's a verbal type. He thrived in the environment, and with his professor's recommendations, he transferred to a university at age 14 (as a sophomore on a full scholarship) and continues to thrive as a Political Science major.
Now, compare his current educational placement with the alternative -- he'd be a high school freshmen. He'd be in school six hours a day, with several hours of homework, and he'd be struggling to find time for extracurricular activities, especially ones that pad his college application. The AP course content is college level material, but it's dragged out over a whole year rather than a semester, and it includes lots of filler assignments, projects, and homework to stretch it out for the whole year. My son would end up bored stiff, numb from busy work.
Now, rather than pretending he's a regular college student, he gets dropped off to attend classes, and he comes home to be a kid -- ride his skateboard, play his bass guitar, hang out with his friends. He's not getting the typical college experience -- just the college content. And he's getting his childhood back, because he's much more free to hang with his friends and do extracurriculars than if he was in high school. And as for the "wierdo" factor -- sure, some of the early college kids are strange, but they'd be wierdos even if they stayed in traditional school, because by definition they're unusual.
Many people can relate to the tedium of high school, especially for those capable of higher level work. But many people see the college option as an attempt to push the kid to adulthood too fast. Believe me, it works the other way for some kids. And just because so many of us have suffered through the traditional system doesn't mean it's the best option ("I was bored in high school but I turned out ok!"). Now, when he's 16 or 17 and graduates from college, he can enroll in a "normal" college experience (living in a dorm, etc.) and get another degree or go to grad school. It's not like this is a widespread movement for kids to take over college classes everywhere. Truly qualified young scholars are pretty rare. Just be careful with the rules you impose on them, even if with good intentions. If they're not hurting the experience for others, please let them have the opportunities, too.
 
My 12 year old son just finished his first college course. He was the top student in his class, his teacher asked him to keep in touch and offered to write him recommendations if he needed them in the future. I know it seems odd, but there are young students who are both mentally and emotionally ready for college courses, and they actually raise the level of the class by being there. Please give them a chance. My son has done distance classes for years, it's a lonely way to learn, and he loves being part of a real classroom with lectures and discussions. It would be so sad, if he lost that opportunity. Perhaps there is a misundertanding as to the relationship of young students to the college? He is not looking to "hang out" with 18yo. He wants to attend classes and learn. He "hangs out" with his 12yo best friend. Just as there are often older students (sometimes in their 60's or higher) who take courses, but do not "hang out" with the 18 year olds for their social life. As far as safety, the college asked me to stay on campus while he was in class. I happily got my own work done in the computer lab while he was in class. The college needn't have even asked. As with most parents, I love my kid, and my level of protection for him will be even higher than those the college imposes. I know it may seem odd if you haven't experienced it directly, but there are students who are capable, and whose lives are changed in enormously positive ways, by having the opportunity to learn in a college classroom, even though they are not the typical age. I am forever grateful to the administrations of the colleges who have opened up their schools to my son. A huge THANK-YOU for seeing a student who would not only thrive, but add to the classroom, and become a better person by attending your schools.
 
Re: the suggestion that younger students should attend an early entrance program especially for younger students.

I agree that can be a great option for some students. However, these programs are very rare. I'm wondering what would you suggest for children who don't live anywhere near such a program and not all families can afford to or wish to relocate cross country. The reality is that there just aren't enough students for there to be programs across the country like this.

The Dean suggests setting an age limit of 16. I'm wondering what he'd suggest for a child who scores in the 99%tile on the SAT at age nine. Should the child simply sit on their hands and wait to age for the next seven years because someone isn't creative enough to think of ways to keep them safe a few hours a week on a campus?

The reality is that the very rare kid who is ready for really early college entrance doesn't have the option to just stop developing for a few years. They may be rapidly growing out of many of the classes available for undergraduates.

There are students who go to college very early and do just fine. They are happy, healthy and pleased to be getting an appropriate education. Our child is one of these students. I'm glad that we've been fortunate enough to meet people who recognize that chronological age isn't always a good measure of acdademic readiness.
 
Actually, the question is should everyone else lose to accomodate the one kid. It strikes me that music handles this situation pretty well with private lessons.
 
I don't see how anyone else loses for having a more age-diverse classroom, as long as the content is not modified. I was an academic 'prodigy' and started CC at 13, took my GED at 16 (as soon as allowed in my state) and went off to 4-year school at that point. I did great in the CC environment, including a 'History of Women in the US' class that was very graphic in dealing with both early medical issues surrounding abortion and discussion of contemporary perspectives.

However, my troubles began at 4-year school when I was harassed by fellow students and the administration completely freaked out. The administration's response was actually worse for me than the student issues, because many of the problems were bullying that would have stopped if there was less institutional involement. I felt like my privacy was invaded as well as my chances of rebuilding later professional relationships with the students who were being really snotty were totally shot. That said, I came out okay from it all, and learned a lot about how to handle authority responsibly from the mistakes of others.

By comparison I really missed the security and stability of the CC environment, and I'm actually back there now to pick up other skills now that I've graduated. Please remember that everything you may have ever read about age groups or even experienced in your own life (for yourself, peers, family, your own children) does not always apply to the few extraordinary children. They have their own challenges and the best you can do is not sugarcoat life for them. And, realistically, you are far less likely at a CC to cause them harm because they are presumably still living with their own families. I would suggest you draw up a legal policy specifying that the very second each class is over their parents are back in charge.
 
You all bring up some valid concerns. I am a mother of an 8 year old who is attending university classes. My son has academic needs that in my community can not be met anywhere else without hiring science tutors and purchasing several thousand dollars worth of equipment that my husband and I can't afford. Our child is home schooled, so only one parent works.

IQ 101
Gifted 1:100
Highly gifted 1:1000
Profoundly gifted 1:10,000


Our son falls in the later category.

He needed to work with specimens in the university lab. We estimate that by the time he reaches the age of high school, he will be working on graduate level projects.

Facts about Science and Education:
• About one-third of all jobs in the United States require science or technology competency, but currently only 17 percent of Americans graduate with science or technology majors … in China, fully 52 percent of college degrees awarded are in science and technology. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony 7/05)
• Only 11 percent of bachelor's degrees in the United States are in the sciences or engineering, compared with 23 percent in the rest of the world and 50 percent in China. (National Summit on Competitiveness 12/05)
• China graduates about 500,000 engineers per year, while India produces 200,000 and the United States turns out a mere 70,000. (National Academy of Sciences: "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" 10/05)
• The United States in 1970 produced more than half of the world's Ph.D.s. But if patterns continue, it will be lucky to produce 15 percent of the world's doctorates by 2010. (National Bureau of Economic Research 5/05)
• 45% of new U.S. patents are granted now to non US citizens. (Education Week "A Quiet Crisis is Clouding the Future of R&D" 5/25/05)
• Only three of the top 10 recipients of U.S. patents in 2003 were American companies. (National Academy of Sciences: "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" 10/05)
• In the fourth grade, U.S. students score above the international average in math and near first in science. At eighth grade, they score below average in math, and only slightly above average in science. By 12th grade, U.S. students are near the bottom of a 49-country survey in both math and science, outscoring only Cypru and South Africa. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony 7/05)
• Less than 15 percent of U.S. students have the prerequisites even to pursue scientific or technical degrees in college. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony 7/05)
• The number of students in the United States planning to pursue engineering degrees declined by one-third between 1992 and 2002. (The Business Roundtable 7/05)
• 88% of high school dropouts had passing grades, but dropped out due to boredom. (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: "The Silent Epidemic" 3/06)


If the US continues to fail to adequately educate our best and brightest students we will continue to pay for it, economically.

My husband and I are doing our best to accomodate our son's inner drive to learn. A local university is working with us nicely to support this as well. It's been nice so far that we have not had any struggles with the university, unlike the public school gifted program that was never willing to teach him math or reading or language arts on his level.

I am sure that there are special arranegments that can be made for these extroidinary learners. Afterall, I am sure that universities will benefit from having students who actually want to be there and who are enthusistic about learning. Ours has. Our son has inspired the adult students to reach higher and to try harder.

Thanks for reading this far.

Connie B in BR
 
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