I have wondered if there’s anything in the stimulus bill that offers assistance for students with gifts and talents. Unlike Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, there is no federal mandate for gifted programs. Instead, the cost of gifted education is borne by the states.
But when I spoke to Jane Clarenbach with the National Association for Gifted Children last week, she said that the stimulus could mean that more beginning teachers will leave college prepared to teach gifted children, as well as students with disabilities, students who have limited English proficiency, and students with low literacy levels.
Her optimism comes from examining the intersection of the stimulus and the recently passed Higher Education Act. The act, passed in 2008, requires colleges of education to place a specific emphasis on training teachers for diverse student populations outlined above.
Fast forward to the stimulus, which allocates $100 million to be used for improving teacher and principal quality. Teacher preparation proograms will receive an infusion of cash which they’ll have to use in part to bolster their teacher training, including following the rules of the HEA.
Most teacher candidates learn very little about gifted students, other than a lecture here or there, Clarenbach said. So as new teachers make their way through the education pipeline, the stimulus money could pay for more training to fill that knowledge gap.
Of course, the question becomes: how many colleges and universities are prepared to offer the kinds of classes beginning teachers say they want, and need, to be comfortable teaching diverse populations? Clarenbach says that you have to start somewhere -- and the NAGC is ready to help.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.