Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why Gifted Education Belongs in Public School

By Emily Villamar-Robbins, guest writer

I am a believer in public school.  Growing up, I attended public school from K – 12.  During law school, I explored the history of educational inequality in the United States, including segregation, desegregation, the risks of tracking, and inadequate school funding.  I believe that each of us has a civic and moral responsibility to
support and fund public schools, and that we must actively defend the right of every child to access a free public education.  I believe in diversity in education, and in the critical importance of equal educational opportunity for all populations.  

As you can imagine, when I had children, I planned for them to attend public school.  When my older son entered first grade, however, we faced a situation not uncommon for children identified by psychologists as gifted: without significant adjustments, the curriculum did not fit his development.  For him to learn in school, we needed help from our district’s gifted specialists. 

When a few family friends learned of his learning levels, some made well-intended comments:

“Public school won’t meet his needs.”
“Public schools have limited resources.  They can’t help kids like him.”  

While this may be the temporary reality in some cases, and especially in states without gifted education laws, I would argue that these statements are offensive:  many parents of children “like him” cannot afford alternatives. 

As parents and educators, we must work to shift perspectives. 
The decision to pull advanced children from public school is common, particularly in areas with inadequately funded schools.  Resigning ourselves to this practice, however, would reveal a terrible bias:  if we fail to hold public schools responsible for meeting advanced learning needs, we assume that (a) children from low-income backgrounds cannot be advanced learners, or (b) advanced learners from low-income backgrounds somehow have less right to learn than students with average academic development.  Experts know that intellectually advanced children are present in culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse populations.  We need increased research to improve methods of identifying giftedness in underrepresented populations, but in the meantime, we can already identify children in families unable to afford alternatives to public school.

If we permit public education to remain underfunded, and if we excuse schools from serving high-ability students, where does this leave gifted children from diverse backgrounds?

For students with any learning difference, flexible strategies and continued monitoring are often needed.  Luckily for my children, our state has gifted education laws, an advocacy organization for educators and parents, and state recommendations for serving gifted children in diverse populations.  We are lucky to live in a district with dedicated gifted specialists and administrators who work hard to identify and meet gifted needs in all populations.  Not all families are so fortunate.

Unfortunately, some education advocates have criticized gifted programs as elitist, unfairly blaming the concept of gifted education for disparities in school quality.  While any strategy can be misapplied or misused, research supports the need for gifted education:  just as children with learning challenges require different interventions, depending on their difference from the norm, children with extreme, advanced differences need curriculum modifications.  As much as we wish it were simpler, schoolwide approaches, in isolation, may not succeed with some learning differences.  Students with extreme differences – including the ‘gifted’ – exist at all income levels. 

To succeed in our commitment to equity and the needs of all students, education advocates must find common ground.  As educators, parents, researchers and lawmakers, we must advocate for improvement in public education as a whole, and we must increase efforts to better identify students with learning differences in diverse populations.  At the same time, we have a duty to advocate for programs, professional development training, and interventions needed for students with all types of special needs and differences – including gifted needs. 

About the Author
Emily Villamar-Robbins is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and she is a parent to two gifted sons from a diverse cultural heritage.  Part of her legal work has involved serving as a staff attorney at Legal Aid and representing clients living below the poverty line.  She currently volunteers in support of local education in Texas, and she is a candidate for graduate certification in gifted education.  She is a contributing author for, an innovative resource on education and the evolution of learning.



  1. The most very important qualities our school system can help instill is a love for learning and the ability to overcome adversity. Read Now: Expert Coursework Writers

  2. It’s important to provide quality gifted education is the common term that is used for specific practices, theories and procedures in the education of any children who is explored as talented or gifted. Unfortunately, few advocates of education criticize various gifted programs such as elitist. They are against of the gifted education and blame it for the disparities in school’s quality. But you should know that research really support the need of this gifted education. If you wish to know more about it so you should contact professional writers offering assignment writing help uk. They have a huge diversity in their knowledge and can guide you well about it.

  3. It's a delight to see your post contains supportive and moreover intriguing. I regard your data that you shared. need to see more enabled work here. I am beginning now done it and Write my Essay for me Online find that this post is to an awesome degree stunning, it's more profitable and all the more pleasing. unfathomable doing keep sharing.

  4. I think this is an instructive post and it is exceptionally helpful and educated. along these lines, I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. Assignment Geek

  5. 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.
    Education News Dubai

  6. Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time. And do you want to leave the virtual worth yourself? If you want, let go to the game sims 4 mods. Click link to participate game.

  7. great and nice blog thanks sharing..I just want to say that all the information you have given here is awesome...Thank you very much for this one.
    Swiss Private Schools

  8. Hi! What an interetsing post! I really undestand you because we had the same problem at school. After all, we found better school with class that contains gifted children. One firnd of mine, who works at the reflective essay outline said that many people strugle with this problems nowadays.

  9. Such an interesting and informative piece of guidance imparted by you. I am glad to discover this information here and I am sure that this might be beneficial for us.
    IB Curriculum

  10. What a great a interesting post. The problem uncovered in this post is rather important and widespread at schools. This article is a great sequence essay example

  11. This is a process that we must go through, school is the place where kids learn the basics and relationship between life and education. The government must pay attention to this in order to improve the condition of schools. Buy Assignment Online

  12. The post is written in very a good manner and it contains many useful information for me.
    middle school science lesson plans

  13. Assignment Help can cover all such prime necessities that are referenced in the student's educational plan and subsequently gives an extensive solution to different sorts of economics assignments. Along these lines, their nonappearance from the classes profoundly influences their studies and they find it exceptionally difficult to finish their economics assignment on time.