A Dec. 16 article in The Washington Post reported that the Montgomery County school system might end the longtime practice of labeling students as gifted or not in the second grade.
The article ignited a fire within the local gifted-and-talented community. More than 300 people posted comments on http://www.washingtonpost.com, and 9,957 voted in an informal online poll on the merits of scrapping the gifted label. The latest tally was 54 percent in favor of keeping it, 41 percent saying dumping it would be a good idea.
The school system went to the unusual length of responding publicly to the article, clarifying that although the idea was under study, no decision had been made. Gifted policy is ultimately decided by the school board, whose members expect to take up the future of the label sometime this year.
The reaction illustrated the level of community interest in accelerated instruction and underscored the friction between advocates for the gifted and school system officials on a more basic question: Are the needs of advanced students being met?