Not every kid in those classes goes on to an incredible career. Some of my peers did go on to medical or law school. Some are academics who have taught and studied at some of the best schools in the world. Some work in education, finance and IT. But you know what? So do my other friends who weren't identified as "gifted." Some of the other "gifted" kids from my classes now work in what most of us would consider pretty average jobs. Although I don't have any data to back it up, I would imagine that the career, and indeed life trajectories of kids in a regular stream at a good high school in a middle-class neighbourhood would be nearly identical to the gifted/enhanced ones.
So I feel that they are worthwhile programs in terms of what they provide for children, but they certainly shouldn't be something that parents or identified kids use to make themselves feel superior, and they definitely provide no guarantee of future success in life. Just like not being identified as gifted
Don't judge by labels
Our second son was tested in Grade 3, like all others, and was classified "gifted". We made a decision with him to stay in his current class with his great friends and as it stands now (Grade 5) he is flourishing academically and socially. We give our son enrichment from the home (if he wants or needs it), the school is very supportive in his enrichment "hours." He is well rounded, involved in sports and loves life.
Bottom line is that you can have academically gifted children in either the program or mainstream environment. You have to make sure that the decision you make is for your child and not for your own personal agenda (makes you "look good"). I know of one parent now whose world would crash around her if her child was removed from the program because this is her (parent) identity. It's disturbing in many ways - her child is no doing well in class and wants out but the parent refuses.
A person should not be identified through a program but identified and lauded from being their own person with their own strengths and weaknesses.
As an opera singer who grew up on stage and gained character and strength through life's experiences and many different, wonderful people … no one should be labelled, we are all human who are striving for the same thing - love, happiness and health. At the end of the day, at the end of the school year, at the end of anything you should be able to look into the mirror and identify yourself with who you are on the inside and not a label you've been given by another. My message to my children.
Smartest drug dealer
Wow, rarely do I read an article in the newspaper that actually gets me emotional - angry more than anything.
I, like a lot of posters here, went through the "gifted" (and my fair share of behaviour quirks) track starting in Grade 5. My parents made quite a big deal about me scoring quite high (third in Ontario, I believe) on some damned bubble test or another. Telling someone you are smarter than almost everyone else your age is the LAST thing you want to tell a 10-year-old child if you want any future for them in the real world.
I suppose it's unfair to judge current gifted-track programs based on the 1980s, but I can tell you that without a doubt, the program was deeply destructive to my life. I'm in my 30s now, and have started to make my peace and find my way in life, but I'm rather convinced that my challenges might have been shortened had I just been treated normally rather than as a math whiz.
I was unquestionably, however, the smartest street-level heroin addict/dealer for a couple years out of high school! And I got a PhD in "bikers don't care whether you are gifted, just whether you pay or not."
No insult intended
As others have pointed out, being called gifted isn't all it's cracked up to be. Have you ever told your friends your child is gifted? Too often they look at you as if you are bragging or insulting their child. Why is it okay to praise little Johnny for hitting a home run in Little League or little Sally for scoring the winning goal in soccer, but talk about your gifted child to non-gifted parents and suddenly you're saying their child isn't smart. I've learned to keep my mouth shut around some people who think that having a gifted child means life must be perfect and everything comes easier.