To the Editor:
Kudos to the new president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who is making support for high-ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds a top priority for the union. In her speech last month at the National Press Club, Ms. Weingarten said that “we also must help the high-achieving students from low-income households who, with extra support, will become our nation’s leaders. ... We must not allow a declining economy to foreclose on the dreams of strivers from struggling families.”
How right she is. In this recession, it is our responsibility to prepare students for a better future. Supporting our most promising learners is essential to the progress and development of America. We must offer these students opportunities for academic and personal growth and prepare them to become the next generation of innovators.
Far too often, especially at the federal level, education for gifted students is all but ignored. While all gifted students suffer from this slight, those most affected are the countless numbers of high-achieving students who, because they live in disadvantaged and underserved areas, fail to be identified and provided the services they need to flourish. Gifted education can stop the cycle of poverty by helping disadvantaged students reach their full potential and achieve their dreams and goals.
National Association for Gifted Children
A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2008 edition of Education Week as Help the Economy by Helping Disadvantaged Gifted Students