While we understand John F. Murphy's concern regarding the appropriate use of education funds [Achievement gap isn't solved by hiring teachers for the talented, Viewpoints, Oct. 12], we must voice our strong disagreement to his argument. Striving for achievement for all students is the primary goal of the District 97 board (as outlined on the first page of their recent newsletter, with financial needs coming in second). So how can it be that by abiding by the state mandate for gifted education the district is being wasteful? Does Mr. Murphy realize that each grade school has only one teacher to serve all gifted students? Does he really believe that denying exceptional students even limited access to such a resource is a waste of funds?
While the questionable test scores of some schools is admittedly a concern for all, the solution is not to deny exceptional students the help that they sorely need. It has been shown that such students, if not challenged, will soon become bored and disinterested in school altogether. In such a scenario, the least "at risk" (in Mr. Murphy's words) become dangerously compromised.
While it may seem un-politic to mention it, the reality of the situation is that if such resources, even in such limited scope, are not offered for their children, many parents may well consider leaving the area for districts that offer more robust programs. Is it too high a price to pay to maintain our diversity and values to offer at least a semblance of a gifted program for Oak Park children? We suggest Oak Park schools continue to strive for the success of all children while maintaining our town's reputation for excellent education, rather than focus on just the basics. How can that be anyone's goal for education?
Wendy & Tim Sheridan