To the Editor:
Your article “Challenging Programs Cater to the Profoundly Gifted” (June 10, 2009) highlighted an exemplary gifted-education experience for students ready to begin college in their early teens. But we must not forget that for other advanced students languishing in classrooms across the country, effective gifted programs and services are limited or unavailable.
Few states require defined services for gifted students, and even fewer provide local districts with the financial means to identify and serve these learners. Washington invests a pittance in our most advanced students, and the Obama administration has proposed to eliminate even that.
As Congress continues to develop the U.S. Department of Education’s fiscal 2010 budget, we caution that proposed cuts to the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program would have dire consequences for gifted students around the country. This modest initiative funds research on classroom strategies that help teachers support advanced learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Instead of eliminating Javits, the singular federal program focused on gifted students, Congress should use the program as the foundation on which to build a comprehensive, national gifted-education policy to ensure that the nation’s future economic and security needs are met.
While affluent parents will find solutions outside the public school channels to support their high-ability children, families dependent on the public education system in many cases have no options for their children seeking to push the boundaries of their knowledge. Congress should fund the Javits program generously, so that resources are available to states to expand opportunities for gifted children and provide targeted teacher training. Previous money spent on the program helped identify and create successful teaching practices. Now it’s time to put those practices in the hands of teachers everywhere.
National Association for Gifted Children
A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week as Cuts in Gifted Programs Are Shortsighted, Ill-Advised