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A new Gallup poll suggests there is substantial public support for special school programs for gifted children, even as shrinking education budgets are forcing cuts in those programs nationwide, provided that such help does not come at the expense of slower learners.

According to the survey, nearly three out of five Americans--61 percent of those surveyed--said that schools should do more to challenge the "very smartest'' children.

As expected, however, support for programs to assist "slow learners'' was greater, with 77 percent of the respondents saying schools should do more for such students. Even parents of gifted children, who were also surveyed, do not favor doing more for gifted children than for less able learners.

The survey found that 84 percent of Americans would support funding for a gifted program "as long as it did not reduce what was offered to average and slow learners.''

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted during February and March for the National Association for Gifted Children.

The consumer advocate Ralph Nader last week joined a chorus of prominent Americans who have called for a renewed emphasis on civics education.

Mr. Nader released a book, Civics for Democracy: A Journey for Teachers and Students, that serves a guidebook for civics classes and programs. It is the result of a three-year research project at Mr. Nader's Washington-based Center for Study of Responsive Law.

Mr. Nader called on teachers, school administrators, curriculum specialists, and education professors to reassess the nature of civics teaching in the United States.

"Generations of U.S. students have viewed civics as a dull, abstract, and unmemorable subject,'' Mr. Nader said in a statement. "It is time for schools to make civics training at least as high a priority as sports, music, or computer training.''

A number of reports in recent years have called for more emphasis in schools on training students to be involved citizens.

The new book, written by Katherine Isaac, presents case studies of students working to improve their communities. It also includes a history of the civil-rights, women's-rights, labor, consumer, and environmental movements, along with activities to help develop civic skills in students.

The book is published by Essential Books, P.O. Box 19405, Washington, D.C. 20036.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has elected 12 new members to its 63-member board of directors. Eleven incumbent directors also were re-elected at the board's meeting last month.

The new members, who will serve three-year terms, include Carlos R. Cisneros, a New Mexico state senator; John Cooke, the president of the cable-television Disney Channel; Carlota Cardenas de Dwyer, a high school English teacher in San Antonio; Curman L. Gaines, the superintendent of the St. Paul public schools; John Guardia, an elementary arts teacher in San Antonio; and Joyce O'Jibway Jennings, an elementary school teacher in San Diego.

The other new members are Angel Stanford Jones, a middle school science teacher in Miami; Barbara B. Kelley, a physical-education teacher in Bangor, Me.; Ruth Perry Smith, a vocational-agriculture teacher in Baton Rouge, La.; Terry Taylor, a high school music director in Spencerport, N.Y.; Frank Edward Thomas, an elementary physical-education teacher in Jackson, Tenn.; and Gov. George V. Voinovich of Ohio.

The national board is creating a system of voluntary certification to recognize outstanding teachers.

Vol. 12, Issue 14

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