The stigma of the smart kid (5X8 – 3/7/13)

Do gifted learners get enough attention, the 86-year-old face of voter fraud, people swamped in rising economic tide, what’s it like to know a drone is looking for you, and when can same-sex couples kiss in public?


Gifted students aren’t getting the attention in school that struggling students are getting, a University of North Dakota grad student argues. The Grand Forks Herald reports on more than 200 dissertations on display at an event this week, including Yee Han Chu’s

A problem, she said, is that many people characterize gifted students as being the children of affluent parents, so the family can seek specialized learning on their own.

“There’s a stereotype that the smart are rich,” she said. “But that’s not always the case. And, you can be gifted in domains that don’t lead to economic success.

“I am particularly concerned about how families that don’t have a privileged background are going to be able to get special learning for their gifted children.”

Another concern about gifted students isn’t scholarly.

“People understand the needs of students who have learning disabilities,” she said. “But they don’t understand that gifted kids can get bullied, called nerds and laughed at. This can cause kids to hide some of their talent and not reach their potential.

In her dissertation, she says 63 percent of teachers say they prioritize needs of lower-achieving students while only 7 percent say they prioritize higher-ability students.


When you hear about voter fraud in Minnesota, what sort of face pops into your mind? Hold that while you read the Mankato Free Press‘ story today about a woman who’s been charged with voter fraud.

Margaret Schneider is 86, she has Parkinson’s, some dementia, and can’t get around very well. She also voted twice in an election last year, once by absentee ballot, and once at the poll place.

“It had been awhile and I didn’t even remember,” Schneider said. “I was shocked to death because I thought my absentee ballot was for the president.”

Schneider’s daughter, Eva Moore, signed the absentee ballot as a witness.

In most cases, she also would have given her mother a ride to her polling place during the Aug. 14 primary election. The weather was nice that day, however, and the polling place close to Schneider’s apartment, so Schneider walked up to vote on her own.

Sandland’s report pointed out that the letters “A.B.” were next to Schneider’s name in the voter roster book. Those letters show that an absentee ballot already had been cast, so Moore is wondering why the election judge didn’t stop Schneider before she signed the book and voted.

“That’s what I told Travis when he told us about this,” Moore said. “Who is in the wrong? The election judges for not checking or my mom?”

Schneider agreed.”I think if I’m convicted, they should be convicted too. They knew I had voted already, so they shouldn’t have let me vote.”

Under Minnesota law, authorities have no discretion in a case like this. The person has to be prosecuted. Schneider appears in court next month, charged with a felony.


People are making money again in the economy. Some people, anyway. The “business” news has fascinating stories, but when you put them all together, they paint a puzzling picture of what’s going on and leave the obvious question: What’s going on?

Here are today’s:

Job Gains, Stronger Economy Boosting Stock Markets (CNBC)

Employers in U.S. Delay Filling Jobs to Pre-Recession Level (Bloomberg)

Minnesota homelessness up 6 percent. (MPR)



Sen. Rand Paul has ended his filibuster over the refusal of the nominee for CIA director to rule out using drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil if need be.

What’s it like to be underneath a drone that’s hunting for you? Jere Van Dyk, a CBS terrorism consultant, considers why drones flying above you inflicts mental torture.

Related: The Pentagon knew about, and helped fund, Iraqi torture centers. (The Guardian)


A California TV station went undercover to learn that heterosexuals are not kicked out of shopping malls for kissing a partner.

That’s not the way it was for a heterosexual homosexual couple who were bounced for kissing. On its Facebook page, the shopping mall said their policy of not allowing sexually explicit conduct.

(h/t: Julia Schrenkler)

Bonus I: A man, an RC airplane, a camera, and a really great river.

St. Croix River in Winter – RC Aerial from Pupsocket on Vimeo.

Bonus II: Canadian folk singer Stompin’ Tom Connors has died. In Canada, you can’t get within a mile of a hockey rink without hearing his contribution.

Bonus III: Storm aftermath photos that will make you look for higher ground. (


Minnesota lawmakers are considering two competing bills that aim to reduce gun violence. One significant difference between the two bills is a requirement for all who purchase guns in the state to undergo a background check. Today’s Question: Should a universal background check be part of gun violence legislation?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: President Obama’s changing principles on matters of secrecy and executive privilege.

Second hour: Alzheimer’s and finances

Third hour: Has the family leave act worked?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Scientist Jared Diamond on his newest book, “The World Until Yesterday.” He examines what traditional societies can teach us about aging, child-rearing, conflict resolution and other human conditions

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – — A Department of Employment and Economic Development report today is expected to say that some of the fear of coming a skills gap in Minnesota has been exaggerated by bad data. MPR’s Tom Robertson will report.

Tom Crann will focus on The Wilder Foundation’s new numbers on homelessness in Minnesota today, as advocates are pushing for the Youth Homelessness Act at the State Capitol. He’ll visit Safe House, a shelter in St. Paul, for a snapshot of youth homelessness.

President Obama will sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act today. Among other things, the law allows tribal courts to prosecute nontribal members for domestic-partner violence. MPR’s Conrad Wilson will have the story.

  • MR

    The obvious question to #2: Would a photo ID requirement have prevented it?

  • Bob Collins

    No, it wouldn’t have. The problem wasn’t she wasn’t who she said she was. The election judge ignored the fact it had been indicated next to her name that she had already voted by absentee ballot.

  • Nate

    re: #5 shouldn’t it be “homosexual couple” in the 2nd paragraph?

  • vjacobsen

    No, gifted kids don’t get the same amount of services that kids who are behind in reading and math get. They get WAY less. But that’s the bad side of NCLB– by definition, it ignores the kids who are ahead. In my daughter’s case, we had this huge discussion with her school that just giving her harder books wasn’t enough. She gets some time with the GAT (or TAG– I forget what it’s called now) teacher, but not enough, and until recently, she was the only girl in the group. We’re pulling her at the end of the year and sending her and her brother to a school that has more time for the gifted program and, more importantly, has girls in the program so my daughter can form a bond with girls who are also gifted.

    And yes, about once every two weeks I consider trying to get the kids into the Gifted Magnet school– but I don’t see how that would ever work for us to get them there every day.

  • Robert Moffitt

    #1) Suck it up, kid. We will all end up working for you some day.

    #2) A couple of small human errors on the part of Schneider and the election judge don’t equal a felony in my book. I expect these charges to be dismissed ASAP.

    #3) More proof (as if we needed it) that life isn’t fair.

    #4) Should we go back to good old fashioned “dumb bombs?” CIA “wet teams?” If not drones, how do we do the dirty business of killing people who mean us harm?

    #5) I think you meant “gay couple” in second graph.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that,

    TQ: Heck, yes.

  • David

    I grew up a GT kid in a time before NCLB. Even then the focus was on test results for the lowest scoring students. This was the case in regular classes and it was the case in advanced classes. From the stories I hear from teachers and parents with kids in school I believe that NCLB has made this issue even worse.

    It is right and necessary for society to ask: What more can we do for our neediest?

    Unfortunately resources are limited and it happens at the expense of our brightest students.

    Even more unfortunate is the constant cycle of testing that NCLB has created doesn’t seem to help anyone, but I guess that’s a separate — albeit intertwined — topic.

  • Jim G

    #2. I hope a judge recognizes her probable mental incapacity as cause for dismissal.

  • Christin

    Gifted/Talented students are considered exceptional and have protections under federal law the same as other exceptional learners, such as students with Autism, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and so on. Teachers must successfully be able to differentiate learning for 25-30 (or more) students in a classroom at various levels. The staff that is there to support teachers in accomplishing this and support learners (special ed teachers) is often understaffed and bogged down with important but time consuming paperwork… so the “easy” kids fall through the cracks. Unfortunately the results for not meeting needs of gifted/talented learners can be just as detrimental as ignoring the needs of kids who are stuggling to acheive. Often times these kids are one and the same; many kids are “twice exceptional” and are both labeled Gifted/Talented & ADHD (or EBD or on the Autism spectrum).

  • Jeff

    My son was friends with a very smart kid in kindergarten. It was clear that he was “gifted”. My fear was that he wouldn’t get the attention and challenges that he deserved because he was going to a school that didn’t have many resources that go to special education for gifted kids. His parents, who, from what I could tell, lived below the poverty line, may not have known that he is eligible for special services and to even be bussed to a “gifted and talented” magnet school elsewhere in St. Paul. Instead, they sent him to the neighborhood school – probably because that’s the one that is close and easy for them as well as him to get to.

    In his case I think that a lack of resources will prevent him from excelling in school as much as he is capable of. And he may not be as productive after school as a result.

  • Jim G

    #3 To this observer, it appears that the income disparity is rapidly increasing. The rewards of our rigged economic game go to the privileged, first and foremost. Greed is the first commandment for the plutocrats running the game. There is no such thing as “trickle down” economics. It’s the great lie that never dies. The reality is the complete opposite: a giant vacuum the “Cyclone of Plutonomy” sucking up the underclasses’ future.

  • jon


    You hit a topic near and dear to my heart.

    From 4th grade into high school I was Gifted and talented. I also have a learning disability, and had an IEP (individual education profile) starting in 6th grade that lumped me in to the “special ed.” section of the school.

    I can say for certain that as a member of the “special ed.” group, I got one on one attention several times a month for a few class periods here and there, and a full half day of testing every semester. frequently more often then that. (or so it felt)

    As a member of the gifted and talented group, I can safely say that I was rarely given one on one individual attention. It was assumed that because I was gifted that I was also self motivated for every function of my education.

    Turns out that wasn’t true.

    While I excelled in some areas (math/science) I was terrible in others (English and writing (my disability is tied to writing). When it came time to do home work, I had no interest. Frequently because I got no value out of it. I drove my parents and teachers insane, because I would be failing a class with 100% scores on all of the tests. I knew the material, but I never did the home work.

    While I got many special exemptions due to my IEP I often refused to leverage them because I didn’t want to be seen as special ed.

    I think ultimately, we aren’t encouraging our kids enough when they excel. I watched my young brother who was gifted and talented get caught up in no child left behind (I was out of school by the time that mess kicked in) I watched as he stopped being taught how to think, and started being taught how to answer test questions…

    Ultimately we need good teachers. I got my IEP in 6th grade instead of 5th or 4th, or even 3rd because I had good teachers for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade (especially 5th grade) it wasn’t until 6th grade when we had several teachers (one per subject) that I needed the extra protection of an IEP, That was the point where I was diagnosed as having a disability. Prior to that teachers had made exceptions, once I stopped having a string of good teachers it had to be the state making the exceptions and forcing it on the teachers (which some of them hated, and I felt they did take it out o me when they could)

    Mean while the special ed. teacher loved me because I was actually excelling, and learning, and making progress consistently… it’s something they don’t get to work with often (particularly in my school district) and they were thrilled to work with me… I was less thrilled to work with them because I didn’t like being labeled as special ed.

  • Disco

    I’ve been fascinated, though not at all surprised, at all the coverage the stock market has received lately. The Dow set record highs on consecutive days. Very few in the media have pointed out that this means absolutely nothing to the vast majority of Americans, especially those who are looking for work. The Daily Show illustrated the absurdity of this.

  • Sareen

    #1) Hits is on the head. It is difficult, socially damaging to be smarter than your peers. I’ve felt it and now my 5 year old is caught up in it. Imagine telling your teacher and then principal about the need for the school (art magnet) to buy a 3D printer to “spur innovation and creativity” and that you need children to “solve the concerns surrounding intellectual property.” She is a fun one.

    The concern for me is that I am trying to move her to a school still with in her “zone” (talking MPS here) that actually has GT programming and I am being told that we would give priority for many things, but Gifted and Talented isn’t’ one of them, even with IQ and medical referrals.

    She told me that she misbehaved the other day in class because her classroom is so busy and her teacher didn’t look her in the eye the day before and she couldn’t go another day of not being challenged and not even being “SEEN as a PERSON.”

    Yikes. We are receiving tons of wonderful services (also ASD) but none of them are focused on GT stuff. I keep pushing to say what many of us have experienced. If you are challenged, you are less likely to misbehave. Thought it was common knowledge. But you can see that with requirements, legislation, crowded schools everyone is simply treading water. GT is seen as a bonus, we will get there if we can. Hopefully they look our way soon. Our future innovations depend on it. 🙂

  • Kat S

    Re #1, I want to echo the comments– especially Jon’s– pointing out that there’s this common misconception that “gifted” and “self-motivated” go together. When they do, great, but they often don’t.

    When any child isn’t being given work that challenges them, they get bored and act out or stop paying attention. They stop doing– or don’t learn how to do– homework. Being gifted and being high-achieving aren’t the same thing.

    I was lucky enough to get into that G/T magnet school back in 4th grade, and I don’t think its a coincidence that most of my classmates and I were middle-class to upper middle-class and had involved parents. We were identified g/t and were able to succeed because we had parents who had the education and free time to advocate for us and to push us at home.

    That became even more evident when I went to high school and was in a G/T program within a larger school.

    This was long before NCLB, and I still remember being told by a couple teachers in early elementary that I didn’t get to “go ahead;” if I finished early I was supposed to help the “slower” students. NCLB only seems to have made that worse. (Of course, that last sentence applies also to special ed, ELL, and a whole lot of other educational ground.)

  • xFSO

    #4) What we should do is to reject the specious logic of the Obama Adminstration Justice Department memo claiming that, since the U.S. never murders its citizens overseas, launching a drone strike against one on the mere say-so of a “high, well-informed official” who thinks he or she is “actively plotting” against us and/or a member of some nebulous group “allied or associated with terrorists,” and whose decision is not subject to review by any legislature or court, cannot be murder. By a similar chain of logic during the last Adminstration it was claimed that, since the U.S. never tortures its prisoners, waterboarding was not torture.

  • kennedy

    Re #1: This ties in nicely with the story circulating yesterday about the escalating cost of special education in school systems. Special education is focused almost entirely on those who have learning challenges. As more resources are devoted to helping this group meet minimum expectations, there are less resources available to help other students excel.

    Some numbers from the Minnesota education budget.

    For the 2011-2012 school year, the state provided a subsidy of $11.4 million for gifted programs (an average of $12/student).

    State spending on special education this year is $1.8 billion (an average of $1,800/student).

  • michael sampica

    on the voter fraud issue, ID would never have any affect in this case as she was impersonating anyone, she was being herself. I feel very sorry for the prosecutor in this case as trying to find anyone in a jury to convict this person is going to be impossible and rightly so. The more important question here is; how many people voted in the last election and is this the only voter fraud case? WoW voter fraud is really a problem isn’t it.

  • Sam

    I was placed in gifted programs as a kid, after ranking highly on IQ tests. I moved around a lot (I’m a military kid), so I was in gifted programs up until my teens. At that point, we were living in California, which did away with their gifted programs in the 1980s. I went through high school without receiving any special treatment. Like so many other commenters have said, gifted does not equate with motivated. Being gifted can actually lead to the opposite – you get easily bored and tune out of things. Couple that with the stigma of being “super smart” at an age when you desperately want to fit in, and you wind up with a kid who won’t push themself to meet their potential. That was what happened to me and many of my gifted friends in high school. We slacked off, took the easy route, and had fun. Looking back, I kick myself. I really wish I had pushed myself harder in high school and taken classes (like advanced chemistry or calculus) that would have allowed me to hit the ground running and pursue an advanced science degree in college. I’m doing fine as an adult now – at some point I realized the damage I did to myself as a teen and did a 180 on education, but I still look back and wish that someone had pushed me harder when I was in high school. Then I wouldn’t have had to try so hard to play catch up as an adult. It’s so much easier to focus on learning when you’re still under your parent’s wing. Once you leave the nest and take responsibility for your own life (and those of children), it’s much harder to find the time to educate yourself.

    Honestly though, I think this applies to all kids – not just gifted ones. Everyone needs someone to push them to work to their highest potential before they graduate high school.

  • Dan Landherr

    Regarding the woman who voted twice illegally, I haven’t seen anyone address the possible consequences. The state constitution specific language is “The following persons shall not be entitled or permitted to vote at any election in this state: A person not meeting the above requirements; a person who has been convicted of treason or felony, unless restored to civil rights; a person under guardianship, or a person who is insane or not mentally competent.”

    It is possible that voting twice in the election due to her dementia shows the woman is not mentally competent to vote. Her voting rights could be taken away by the judge.

  • Alison

    I was a gifted child growing up, and while being placed in advanced classes and special programs to nurture this gift was definitely beneficial, I feel like a lot of my success was due to my parents being involved in the learning process. My mom read to me every night, told my teachers that I needed different, more challenging books for reading assignments; my dad would work with me on math problems and do science experiments with me in the kitchen, etc. When we place so much blame on lack of funding for education and lack of attention for gifted students, I think we fail to realize that a lot of the power to affect a child’s development and future is in the hands of the parents. Being an involved and proactive parent goes a long way in developing childhood gifts.

  • BJ

    //a lot of the power to affect a child’s development and future is in the hands of the parents

    Which is why rich and poor have such huge disparities. Poor parents working 2-3 jobs don’t have the time (and the resources – books, extra baking soda for experiments) to help their kids.

    Its why preschool programs targeting poor are so important. Free before and after school programs where poor families can send their kids to get the attention they need.