Sunday, December 2, 2012

A CALL TO ACTION TO: Show UP! Stand UP! and Speak UP! to ERADICATE UNDER-REPRESENTATION IN GIFTED EDUCATION PROGRAMS NATIONWIDE!!

African American, Hispanic, Native American, first generation immigrant, and other culturally diverse children and youth are under-represented in gifted education and advanced learner programs nationwide!! These young people are highly intelligent, creative, resilient, hard-working, and possess all of the traits required to enable them to be identified and served in publicly-funded programs in schools that are labeled gifted education and advanced learner classes. Almost every state has mandated that gifted children be identified and provided an appropriate education that meets their intellectual, leadership, arts, and academic potential. While it is recognized that funding for gifted education programs is suffering in school districts everywhere, we also realize that there are places where services are being provided and that gifted education, advanced learner, academic competition programs do not represent the demographics of the district and the schools in their communities at large.

Like 3,000 other educators and advocates for gifted children, I attended the 59th Annual Convention of the National Association for Gifted Children in Denver, Colorado last month. The convention was exciting! More diverse educators there than I’ve seen in my decade or more of attending NAGC conventions.  More attention to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students is definitely needed. But the lack of attention to diverse students at NAGC is a reflection of what is happening nationwide. The NAGC represents a small closely knit group of scholars, educators and advocates who spend a great deal of their time focusing on gifted learners, how they can be identified and how schools should attend to their unique and complex needs. One of our goals at the national level over the next few years is to grow a new group of scholars, practitioners, members, and leaders in the organization to address the needs of a growingly diverse student population across the U.S.!

The support of more educators and policymakers (even if gifted education is not your ‘priority’ or the first task on your list of ‘to dos’), is needed to ensure that more children and youth with intellectual and creative potential are challenged and provided access to appropriate educational opportunities. This is a plea to you to ‘join us’ in this effort. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The students benefit most initially, but in the long-term, we all benefit!

The brilliant minds of these young people are going to waste. They are floundering in our classrooms, some very bored and underachieving. Some of these students are simply overlooked because of the color of their skin and stereotypical notions that educators have about their potential for high level achievement in academics, arts, and leadership.

Action is needed immediately to correct this monumental problem!! While these students represent  as many as  40-50% of the school-aged population, in some parts of the nation they represent less than 10% of those students identified and served in gifted education and advanced learner programs. In some districts, African American, Hispanic, first generation immigrant, and other children of color may represent even higher numbers of students in school yet are relegated to remedial programs, special education classroom, general education classes where they are NOT intellectually and creatively challenged. This limitation keeps these brilliant youth from being adequately prepared to meet the academic rigor of advanced coursework in high school and thus, they are ill-prepared for college and careers for which they have natural gifts and talents!!

Families and community members, this challenge is yours as well. We need you to become stronger advocates for our children and insist that schools fairly and equitably provide highly skilled, culturally sensitive teachers for ALL children & youth and that they target their identification and services to those children and youth who have not been served in the past and who should be provided specialized coursework, access to academic competitions, mentors, internships and engagement w/ professionals across all disciplines to better prepare them for the future!!

Join me and my colleagues in fighting for this cause and ERADICATING UNDER-REPRESENTATION IN GIFTED EDUCATION AND THE SCOURGE OF UNDER-PERFORMANCE of culturally diverse students across this nation. If you have ideas to share, please write in the comment box or email me so that I can share them in an upcoming blogpost.

The children & youth are counting on us to SHOW UP!! STAND UP!! AND SPEAK UP!! They DESERVE ACCESS TO EQUITY AND EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION, TO HAVE THEIR GIFTS RECOGNIZED, AND THEIR FUTURES MADE BRIGHTER!!

We’re all in this TOGETHER!!
Please comment below or email me @ profjoy1022@gmail.com

10 comments:

  1. We at HBCU Kidz, Inc. support U and your very important work! DO U have a checklist we could distribute of how parents and advocates can identify children who might be overlooked as gifted?

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  2. Thanks for the feedback. Yes! I have a checklist that I am modifying. Will send you a copy and post early next year.

    Your leadership and advocacy is so important to others!! Thanks again!!
    Dr Joy

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  3. Thanks for the feedback. Yes! I have a checklist that I am modifying. Will send you a copy and post early next year.

    Your leadership and advocacy is so important to others!! Thanks again!!
    Dr Joy

    ReplyDelete
  4. A checklist is certainly important but may be useless without substantive training in multicultural AND gifted education. The same is true for a test; it is only useful in the right hands and with the right mindset.

    I like the focus on empowering Black and Hispanic parents/families so they can enjoy some of the social and cultural capital common to middle and upper income/class White families. Too often, their connections place them at a major advantage. Dr. Joy talks about this in her book/work and so do I (see Donna Y Ford books entitled Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students, and Multicultural Gifted Education.)

    It goes without saying that 'culturally different' children are as intelligent and capable as others. But this is NOT reflected in gifted and AP class representation. As Joy indicated, the waste of talent is tremendous -- and especially among Black and Hispanic males. They are virtually absent in gifted and AP -- but very well represented in special education (prison pipeline). So please do use Dr. Joy's checklist and do more. Thanks for caring and doing.

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    Replies
    1. Donna, Thank you!! Critical to this whole conversation is mindset & training. No doubt!

      The efforts here are to change mindsets about Bright, Talented, Gifted...BRILLIANT students of color- period.

      There's work for everyone to do!! And this issue is not going away until we do BETTER!! Otherwise, it's at a great loss to individuals, communities and the American society as a whole.

      The blog will continue to be used to disseminate ideas & materials to the wider community!
      Thanks again, Dr. Ford~

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  6. Count me in! Working to identify and serve underrpresented students in gifted programs has been my primary focus for the past 10 years. Just bought both your books, Drs. Davis and Ford, at the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Conference last week. Also working on my dissertation on gifted high school students who were identified when they were in elementary bilingual programs.
    Teddi Beam-Conroy
    teddi.beam-conroy@nisd.net

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your initiatives! So proud of the work you're doing in TX!!
      All the best,
      Dr Joy

      Delete
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