I spent my evening with a few families of friends new and old. Among the topics: the sorts of gifted education offered for their children in the public school systems in our areas (plural). It was not what one might expect: more academic, more rigorous, more advanced, but rather more loose, un-academic, personal project-oriented. It is not where I would send a kid to teach him or her more deeply - it is where I might send a smart kid to have a more fun time.

Thinking about it now though, a darker hypothesis popped up its ugly head. What if you were an education theoretician of the "social justice" mold, for whom educational inequality is a problem to solve? You would not be fond of special programming for gifted students; after all their high achievements exacerbate the "gap" you hate. What if under the guise of gifted education, you could instead subtly undermine them by directing emphasis not on academic stuff but other sorts of work? Could you perhaps do it to such an extent that the kids' academics actually end up lagging by the time they finish your school?

As long as you dress up the program with lots of pretty buzzwords, and emphasizing how different these gifted programs are, maybe the school superintendents / ministers, through to the low level teachers and parents wouldn't realize the implications. What if the earliest signs of trouble would be when/if the students apply to universities and start struggling -- by that time well out of one's jurisdiction/accountability?

Wouldn't that be a horrible cruelty?