Getting Real With Shadra Bruce


Our education system is nowhere near perfect. It’s definitely come a long way, but it seems like we still have a long way to go in acknowledging the talents of individual students. It seems that with laws such as the NCLB Act, a child that shines bright must dim in the classroom, as if it were possible to draw energy from one to “light” the others. Common Core Curriculum has made it even worse, and we are losing our best teachers by the thousands.

While equal opportunity for all students is a must, there should also be a path for those that would like to go above and beyond.

Anika is an excellent student. She has just completed 5th grade, but she is reading at a 12th grade level. Her free time is spent writing essays on prominent political figures, reading, writing her own book, running her own website, and dancing. She is a well-rounded individual who has pretty much been in the driver’s seat of her own destiny. We have done nothing except encourage the passions she has herself developed.

At one point during this school year, she expressed a wish to skip sixth grade. The material was boring to her. With an average of 99% in her studies, we certainly weren’t going to hold her back. Dave and I agreed that she wasn’t being challenged and pursued skipping a grade.

The school, of course, was not thrilled with our proposition. Testing demonstrated an overall average IQ (parts of it were extremely high; spatial skills were lower) and they didn’t see a reason for Anika to move forward. They recommended enrichment in the classroom (as if any elementary school teacher has time in their day to individualize the education of a student who isn’t on an IEP).

The problem with the school’s reasoning is that Anika’s success – and everyone’s success – has far more to do with motivation than IQ. Anika’s passion for learning and willingness to work hard is what carries her, and after some deliberation, the school district is allowing her to move to 7th grade.

Are we worried that she might feel a little out of place? Not really. She already socializes with her 14-year old cousins and brother on a regular basis. We are confident that she will find her way and continue to be successful. She has our support, and at the end of the day, we know her better than the school does.

We are bridging the small gap between 6th and 7th grade math this summer, but otherwise Anika has got it covered.