Thank you for your article, “Parents speak out on District 97’s gifted program.” I appreciate your attendance at the community forum and the difficult task you had in summarizing the variety of comments of community residents. I was disappointed, however, that the article did not make mention of the number of parents who spoke up in favor of differentiation and who support a more inclusive program of integrated, differentiated and accelerated learning opportunities for our community’s children. A significant number of commentators–including one third-grade student–shared their opinions of and experiences with differentiation, a philosophy that expands traditional gifted learning beyond the test-and-track model and provides opportunities for advancement to more children in our district. Many who spoke underscored how differentiation can be an important component to closing the achievement gap, moving the system away from unnecessary labels and other activities that may limit, albeit unintentionally, the opportunities for all students to achieve academically. Many of the parents spoke eloquently about their commitment to this community and shared a vision that went well beyond concern for their own child. To not include that perspective would be a disservice to that vision.
Betsy Leonard
Oak Park

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