Special Education

Gifted Advocates Say Rules Protect Federal Money

By Christina A. Samuels — April 29, 2008 1 min read

Advocates for gifted education say changes to a U.S. Department of Education grant notification have allayed their fears that money designated for high-achieving students was being diverted to other needs.

In the April 21 edition of the Federal Register, the department requested grant proposals that would be funded through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program.

The program, enacted in 1989 and financed at $7.5 million for fiscal 2008, is the only source of federal funding for gifted and talented education.

An earlier version of the grant notification, published in January, had led some advocates to believe that the government was looking for programs that would use techniques successful with gifted students to help students who are low-achieving.

Using the money for anything other than identifying gifted students in underrepresented groups would be a misuse of the funds, said Jane Clarenbach, the director of public education for the National Association of Gifted Children, in Washington.

The revised notification, according to department comments, clarifies that the federal program’s money is intended to be used for programs that identify and serve students who are gifted and talented.

Any groups that apply for grants under the program must also have expertise in serving students who are gifted and talented. “It seems clear now that we’re back to serving children achieving at high levels,” Ms. Clarenbach said.

Such grant programs are particularly important, she said, because districts may not have enough money to focus on students considered underrepresented in gifted education, including economically disadvantaged students, students with limited English proficiency, and students with disabilities.

The Bush administration has repeatedly tried to kill the program. Its rationale is that states generally bear the costs of gifted education, and the Javits initiative is too small to make much of a difference, the administration said in explanation.

A version of this article appeared in the April 30, 2008 edition of Education Week

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