By Asra Q. Nomani
All children are gifted and talented in their own way. Much like soccer, lacrosse and baseball leagues assign their most skilled players to travel teams, "light year kids" are children who are "light years" ahead of their peers in academics.
In Fairfax County, many of those kids are enrolled in a system currently called Advanced Academic Programs, know as AAP, starting in third grade. Previously, it was called "Gifted and Talented."
This fall, the Fairfax County Public School system unveiled a proposal, marketed as an "expansion" plan for its Advanced Academic Programs centers in fall 2013. Many parents are standing up in protest to the plan as actually a dismantling, or, as one parent put it, a "dumbing down," of the county's Advanced Academic Programs.
Just as we have decided as a country that we would leave "no child behind," it's critical we leave no "light year kid" behind.
This blog has been started to give voice to those who seek to make sure we leave no "light year kid" behind, as we work toward improving the education of all children.
To be sure, there are important issues that need to be resolved regarding the current Advanced Academic Programs system in Fairfax County, including, overcrowding at certain AAP centers, increasing the participation of the county's increasingly growing number of African American and Hispanic students, and improving the quality of education that all children receive.
Yet, one thing is clear: the new "expansion" plan is not ready for primetime.
Fairfax County Public Schools doesn't have a clear plan in place, related to critical elements of establishing new, high-level Advanced Academic Programs centers, including issues of facilities and teacher instruction.
Many parents stand opposed to the proposed plan. One of the finest school systems in the country, Fairfax County is a model for the rest of the country. These parents seek to have Fairfax County's nine Board of Education members vote to table the proposed plan so the Fairfax County Public Schools staff can have a serious, thoughtful conversation with the county's parents, educators, and community members, focused on one important issue: how to best support our county's--and our country's--"light year kids."
They are sending the Board of Education a clear message that their children are taught in school in Fairfax County: "Stop and Think."
Tabling the motion would be a victory for our "light year kids," our community and our country. We need to leave no "light year kid" behind.