More Funding For Gifted Education Please

I bookmarked an article a couple of weeks ago published on The Journal, entitled: “Is American Education Neglecting Gifted Children?”.  Being a gifted and talented elementary teacher I was immeadiately drawn into the topic. 

The article highlighted a report done by the National Association for Gifted and Talented; the report was “2008-2009 State of the States in Gifted Education.”  David Nagel highlighted the following points from the report:

  • A full fourth of states provided zero funding for programs and resources for gifted students last year;
  • In states that did provide funding, there was little consistency, with
    per-pupil expenditures ranging from $2 to $750 last year;
  • Only five states require professional development for teachers who work in gifted programs;
  • Only five require any kind preparation for these teachers;
  • Gifted students spend most of their time in general classrooms and receive little specialized instruction;
  • Key policies are handled at the district level, when there are policies in
    place at all, rather than at the state level, creating “the potential
    for fractured approaches and limits on funding”;
  • There is no coherent national strategy for dealing with gifted students.

I agree, there is a problem with America’s education and guidance of Gifted students.  There is a lack of funding and a flawed view of ways to challenge and nurture these students in order for them to develop their intelligence in ways that will truly benefit our great nation. 

This article reminded me of a piece done in TIME Magazine in 2007: “Are We Failing Our Geniuses?”  In the TIME article there is one paragraph that really stood out to me:

“But surprisingly, gifted students drop out at the same rates as nongifted
kids–about 5% of both populations leave school early. Later in life,
according to the scholarly Handbook of Gifted Education, up to
one-fifth of dropouts test in the gifted range.
Earlier this year,
Patrick Gonzales of the U.S. Department of Education presented a paper
showing that the highest-achieving students in six other countries,
including Japan, Hungary and Singapore, scored significantly higher in
math than their bright U.S. counterparts, who scored about the same as
the Estonians. Which all suggests we may be squandering a national
resource: our best young minds.” 

“In a no-child-left-behind conception of public education, lifting everyone up to a minimum level is more important than allowing students to excel to their limit. It has become more important for schools to identify deficiencies than to cultivate gifts.”

We need a change in thought, policy, and funding.  We need to nurture the gifted; we need to truly challenge them and allow their abilities to be flourish.  In order to do this we need to look at a systematic program in how we approach training of gifted teachers and requirements to teach the gifted. Schools are also so focused on meeting state requirements established because of NCLB legislation that they are often overlooking the gifted students in order to get others “up to speed.” 

With over 8 billion a year is being spent on special education in comparison to only 800 million a year on gifted education (Source).  Shouldn’t there be an equal per pupil expenditure between both groups?

One major key to fostering the gifts and abilities of GT students is to use new and inventive technologies to facilitate learning and foster an critical creative mindset.   Please consider writing your local state congressman to express your concern regarding the lack of funding for gifted education.  Also if you teach in a general classroom setting but have some truly gifted students embrace 21st century learning and teaching; not just for those students but for all your students!