Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race, and Gender in United States Schools

By Lois Weis; Michelle Fine | Go to book overview

MARA SAPON-SHEVIN


Chapter Two
Gifted Education and the Protection
of Privilege: Breaking the Silence,
Opening the Discourse

INTRODUCTION

The emperor was told that he was being woven beautiful clothing that could not be seen by silly folks, only by wise people, and he paid the weavers lots of money to weave him a suit. When the weavers brought the clothes to the emperor, he could see nothing, of course, but not wanting to be thought a silly man, he pretended to dress himself in invisible clothes. Those who watched the emperor parade naked did not want to be thought fools either, so they said nothing. When, finally, one honest little boy blurted out the truth, the emperor ran naked and embarrassed back to his castle, but alas, by then the weavers were gone, and so was the money.

The story of gifted education is a lot like the story of the emperor's new clothes; vast looms have been constructed to weave a cloth that we can't actually see, children have been identified and labeled, special programs have been organized and evaluated, and not wanting to be thought fools, not wanting to appear disrespectful or envious or unappreciative of the beautiful weave, many of us have remained silent. As in the story, increasing amounts of money are spent to support gifted education, but unlike the story, the weavers are not leaving town; firmly entrenched within powerful governmental and educational positions, solidly supported by current economic and political rhetoric, they will continue to maintain that their clear vision

-25-

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