MCPS recently sent out letters mistakenly telling parents of 3rd graders that their child was waitlisted at one of the Centers for Enriched Studies, it was a significant misstep, and upsetting (even hurtful) for many families. However, we need to think about not as the printing error MCPS says it was, but a symptom of a more serious problem.

This is the first year that MCPS is screening all third graders for participation in the Centers for Enriched Studies; a good thing to do that is a well established way to make gifted programs more representative of the overall student body on multiple fronts. Maybe the fact that this is was the first year in a new process is why this happened.

MCPS made a mistake, and as a result the hopes of about 5,265 families were raised, and then quickly dashed.  A family’s third-grader was on the waiting list for one of the centers, and then they weren’t. It wasn’t well done, and if elected, I hope that we don’t make that kind of mistake while I am on the Board, but honestly, we might.  However, whatever printing error led to the mistake is the smaller problem here.

The thing we need to be thinking about and talking about is why families are so attracted to the center programs, and why a third grader would cry when she found out she didn’t get in to the center program. Presumably, part of the reason families are so interested in the center programs is that don’t feel their children are getting what they need in their neighborhood school.  That is a huge problem and that is what we need to really understand; are we doing what we need to be doing in all of our schools?  

The parent quoted in the article said students aren’t being offered enough robust learning opportunities throughout MCPS. “There’s not enough room in these programs. That’s the problem.” I don’t know for sure if that is true, but I think it might be true. However, I do know that we can’t just be looking at center programs as the solution when families aren’t satisfied with their neighborhood schools. We need to make sure we are doing what we need to be doing for every student in every school, every day.

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