We have been fighting for gifted education over here in Chi-land. While, I do not actually think that the board thinks gifted education is a bad thing, I do think that they believe it is an easy cut because most people in the district won't be impacted (so they think). They won't cut special education for kids in the bottom 2% because well, they are mandated to provide services by the government.
It has been an interesting ride, as a lot of people, not realizing I am a "gifted" mom (I love that new label), have had some not so nice things to say about the program. Oh, those kids will be fine, just give them another book to read in the back of the classroom. We shouldn't spend money on the smart kids, they are already smarter than anyone else. My favorite is: All the gifted kids are just really kids of rich parents who use their money to get them into the program. Yeah, that is right all my free lunches provided by the state, I used them to influence the board. Hey, Mr./Mrs. Board Member come on over and get your free cafeteria lunch and in exchange I want my kid in the gifted education program. I see that working.
Mac, not on gifted education... let me see, he will be bored. He will bug the teacher and the kids in the class. He will cause so many problems the teacher will beg for mercy. I will earn a parking space for my frequent trips to the school, people might start to think I am an employee.
You see, just because Mac is really smart, he has some issues with his emotional iq. His ability to control himself is, well, somewhat lacking, to put it mildly. Especially when he is bored. Gifted Education is Special Education. A gifted ed teacher has to have certification, and s/he has to be prepared to deal with a variety of social behaviors that are not typical in the regular classroom. There are high functioning autistic kids in Mac's class, there are kids who struggle with frustration and controlling themselves, there are kids with anxiety disorders, etc. These teachers have to be able to keep a bunch of kids on track, challenged and help them manage the behavior. It is a hard job and there is a reason the class sizes are so small!
When these kids are not focused and challenged, there becomes many behavior problems. Just imagine, all those kids in one classroom, having tantrums, 25 other kids all at different levels, one teacher with no aide. Yeah, it would be pretty. The parents with their kids in the class with the "gifted kids"... they would regret thinking that would be a good thing.
If it wouldn't be detrimental to my kid, it would almost be funny to do it and let them watch it blow up in their faces.