To the editor:
We have excellent laws to make sure no child is left behind. Our system of education makes sure everyone desiring a diploma will get it. There are provisions for those who are mentally handicapped, slow learners or learning disabled.
It would be great if the same provisions and funding were also made available to our gifted students. This system instead makes every effort to keep our gifted students in the mainstream and discourage them from learning at the rate they should be going. Instead of allowing these students to progress at a faster pace according to their ability, they are held back, driving them to boredom and eventually to failure. This practice of holding back children of high ability tends to develop a hatred of the system that goes against their natural ability to grasp concepts at a faster rate without a need for repetition and hundreds of meaningless practice exercises that are designed for average and below-average learners. Often these students are misunderstood, eventually becoming the troublemakers and the dropouts.
The students on the other end of the spectrum -- the cream of the crop -- are the ones who are left behind. We need to take care and understand their needs. This does not entail a huge budget. Let them progress at their own rate. There are several inexpensive ways to take care of these students' needs. Doing so should help this country raise and produce the scientists and engineers needed to maintain and keep global competitiveness.
BELEN LICHTENEGGER, Cape Girardeau