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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org