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Student Debaters
Last week, Ivan and I were asked to be judges at a regional debate among four local high schools. Carlisle, Hickman, Fulton Counties and Fulton City Schools all sent students from their high school advanced programs to compete.

The topic, "Off Shore Drilling, To Drill or Not to Drill" pitted the Economists against the Environmentalists. Teams were expected to be ready to argue either side of the issue at the drop of a hat.  In the initial stage of the competition, Carlisle County and Fulton County High beat Hickman and Fulton City by very small margins.  In the final competition, Fulton County's team of Environmentalists came out on top.

Fifteen students also participated in an ad hoc speaking competion. Participating students drew a subject and then spoke for two minutes. The judges were all impressed by the organization and poise of all the speakers. The winning speech was from a Carlisle County student who spoke of a local woman who had suffered breast cancer with great courage and faith.

Education of children with academic gifts has always taken a back seat to athletics and special needs students. It is unfortunate that our students must "compete" for attention and funding. No one in their right mind should ever advocate contributing fewer dollars to our less able learners. No one that wants to avoid tar and feathering would even hint that athletics is less important than academics.

There is a wrongheaded, but prevalent, notion that gifted kids can "get it on their own".  That just doesn't happen. Unless academically gifted students get needed resources, their talents, like any other talent left unused, wither.  High IQ kids commit suicide more often than their classmates. Is there anyone who has been called a "geek" or "brain" in high school who hasn't wondered if being smart is worth the pain of being different?

The Governor said at his press conference that education is the most important goal for his administration. That's laudable. Excuse my cyncism, Governor, but I have heard that phrase since gifted education got into the curriculum in the 70s and 80s. Programs in our schools have never been adequately funded - and there is little hope they will be in this very bad economic climate.  Teachers like Brenda Mahan work on mouse sized salaries and few extras.

Oh, yes, I realize there are bright spots. Too few and too far between.

 

That's too bad because one of those debaters might be the one to find an answer to the question of "Drill or No Drill" if given the science education to do so.


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