Sunday, August 12, 2012

On the Outside Looking In:Making a place for ALL gifted learners in Gifted Education

I've had a very, very exciting summer!! Shared some wonderful, restful times at home relaxing in the 'country' with family, slept late, hosted a birthday cookout, traveled up north, had time to rest and renew my mind, body & spirit.  Earlier this summer I had the distinct pleasure of sharing the  luncheon keynote speech at the Annual SENG Conference in Milwaukee. I was so moved by my experiences at SENG! The group was warm and very receptive to my message regarding our need to advocate more for African American and other diverse groups of gifted learners and to empower their families to learn more about gifted education and the needs of their gifted children. A few weeks ago, I received word that I won the election for an at-large seat on the NAGC Board of Directors...I'm so humbled and pleased to be able to serve. In particular, I look forward to bringing the needs of diverse gifted learners to the center of our conversations at NAGC during my tenure on the board. I also visited Duke University to work w/ a very special advocate of diverse learners and tireless scholar, Dr. Margaret Gayle. At Duke, I presented to educators and families- it was a great experience.

Just this weekend I visited Garland, Texas to work with educators helping them learn more about the challenges of Bright, Talented & Black students and empowering the families of these students. The highlight of my day in Garland was the evening session when  entire families: mothers, fathers, grandparents, young children and teens alike poured into the Curtis Culwell Arena to hear the research and practical advice designed to enhance the lives of their BRIGHT, TALENTED AND BLACK children. After the session, parents and children swarmed around me to express their gratitude and share their individual stories. The students were bright-eyed and enthusiastic, even on a Friday evening in a lecture hall..they were just as engaged as their parents. Some parents told me that it was as if I was right in their home with them and 'knew' their children and their experience personally...Children came to have their books signed and others to have me sign their 'save the date' notes sent by the district earlier this year. They had held on to them and brought the notes with them to the evening session.  I share all of this not to boast but to inform, empower and enlighten.
There are countless numbers of gifted learners in communities all across America who know that they are intelligent, creative, humorous, intense, quirky, compassionate, and special in many ways. Some of these children are already in specialized schools and classes for gifted learners- but many are not. (Unfortunately, national data indicates that African American, Hispanic American, Native American and low income learners across ethnic groups are usually NOT served at the same level as their Anglo American peers). Those students who are not in these gifted education classes and schools know who they are, they're just waiting for someone to recognize their 'uniqueness', speak up, and advocate for them to have access to the specialized 'gifted education and advanced academic' services.

Some of these children and youth - through no fault of their own, live in the most challenging of life circumstances with limited resources. They live in settings where adults are so pre-occupied with day-to-day existence concerns they have little or no time, energy, or heart left at the end of it all to inquire as to why their 'bright' child is having to repetitiously go through materials, is bored in school, may be getting into trouble, or seems to have no outlet in the school day for their brilliance. Others may come from families with fewer day-to-day concerns, but may still find it hard to be fairly evaluated and provided access to gifted services. These children and teens have the same inclinations, desires to learn, are just as curious, have as many questions, and have dreams to soar just as their peers IN those special programs do. Unfortunately for too many of these students- they remain on the OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. 

There's so much work to be done to make gifted education services equitable and accessible to students from all backgrounds who deserve to be IN special classes with culturally responsive gifted education-trained teachers, special schools, academies, summer programs,  and early college/university settings. 

As we begin this new academic year, I  challenge each reader, whether you are a parent, community member, or educator, to please do your part to speak up and increase your advocacy students who should have access to gifted education services that allow them to explore, question, create, demonstrate their special empathy, learn at their own level, and be self-fulfilled.

Please join me and others as we increase our advocacy efforts on behalf of those yet to be identified gifted learners who for too long have been 'on the outside looking in'. They deserve the same opportunities as others, don't you agree?

"It starts with the premise that talent lies in every American community..and then, puts that talent in the way of opportunity. It's as simple and as powerful as that"
-The Honorable Governor Deval L. Patrick, 71st Gov. of Massachusetts



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Alycia..please continue to read & share the blogsite! Your supported is greatly appreciated!!

  2. I value the work you are doing in Gifted ed SO. MUCH. I was kept out of Gifted classes in the 70s by civil-rights conscious parents who saw GATE as a form of segregation (I am white and my parents kept me in increasingly brown public schools during the white flight era). I kept my own son in public schools for the same reason; I have always said that while I may have been academically underserved, I benefitted hugely as the white child of teacher parents by having an (all too rare) opportunity to truly become friends on an equal basis with kids who were ethnically and economically different from me.

    Last year, though, my son melted down in his sixth grade school, to the point where we have been advised by multiple psychologists to pull him out of formal education altogether, and we are home schooling now. Racial and economic segregation are two of the things that worry me most about home schooling, including my perception (which might be incorrect; I'm new to this!) that many home schoolers see the public system as irredeemable. But what happens, then, to kids whose parents cannot or will not home school, or kids for whom "home" is not a safe place?

    All of which is to say that I've really latched onto your work in Gifted Ed and am very, very glad that you have this blog and make what you do so available to the wider public.

    1. I am glad to be able to do this work and share w/ the wider public! It is very important that we all do our part to improve educational settings and thus, life outcomes for more students!

      Please keep reading, commenting & sharing this blogsite!

      We're all in this together~

  3. We at SENG were so moved by your keynote! I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship for you and SENG. Congratulations on your NAGC position. I am so happy to see you there.
    Lori Comallie-Caplan, President, SENG

    1. Thank you so much! I am very pleased to have made new friends and extend my 'gifted education' community with the new connections made at SENG this summer! You'll definitely see me again!!

  4. Congratulation to you. I am happy after reading your post that you have posted in this blog. Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this.
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