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Gifted and Funded

When school boards sift through their budgets each year, programs for gifted students typically are the first to get the ax. Since those children have the most ability, the rationale goes, they would be hurt the least by budget cuts.

But the conference committee in Congress that negotiated the final fiscal 2002 budget for education spending agreed to a record-high funding level for the federal program for gifted education.

To the delight of advocates for such programs, the committee gave the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program a 50 percent boost, to $11.25 million. Though a comparatively modest sum in a $48.9 billion Department of Education budget, it is by far the largest amount yet allocated to the 13-year-old program. Last year, the Javits program received $7.5 million.

The House version of the appropriations bill repeated that figure. But the Senate doubled that. The conference panel split the difference.

President Bush had zeroed out the program in his budget request.

"We hope in the future this is only the beginning of Congress recognizing that gifted students in this country have special educational needs," said Peter D. Rosenstein, the executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children, a Washington-based advocacy group.

The Javits program provides research grants designed to enhance knowledge of how to provide education to the gifted.

The money will go to the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented and to a new competitive-grant program. Congress, which in earlier proposals for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision submerged gifted education within a larger block grant, ultimately left Javits free-standing.

The ESEA's final version, signed by the president last week, separately makes gifted education one of 19 allowable uses under what are called Innovative Education Program Strategies.

—Lisa Fine

Vol. 21, Issue 18, Page 20

Published in Print: January 16, 2002, as Federal File

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