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But that’s not enough for some parents. They say the Minneapolis approach can leave their children feeling like outcasts; some in their boredom grow disruptive or withdrawn. They say full-time programs offer important reinforcement, along with challenging curriculum.
“The coolest thing is that they’re all a bunch of inquisitive kids and they all get to be in a classroom where they feed off each other,” Weismann said.
Skeptical of ‘segregating’
There may be a fundamental and unbridgeable conflict between the district’s philosophy and parents of some gifted children.
Judy Farmer, who spent 27 years on the school board, said she was skeptical of full-time gifted programs during her tenure. She saw them as the domain of upper-middle-class parents who “want to get every little edge for the Ivy League.” Segregating the brightest kids is poor practice for the real world, she added. “If you skim the cream off the top, what does that do to the other kids?”
Board member Jenny Arneson said the current board believes, “It’s very possible to serve our students’ needs in existing schools, rather than create a separate program.”
Parents of gifted students say that separate gifted programs can allow the next tier of kids in regular classrooms to shine. Meccia said that there’s an inherent difference between high achievers and the intensely focused gifted students she described as “those who cannot bear to sit through a class.”
Still, she said she’s anguishing over whether to leave.
“It’s really hard and unfortunate, but I feel like Minneapolis will not care that we’re gone. And that makes me sad.”
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib