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I am starting with my edit, because while this is an addendum to my thoughts on the funding issue, this is the most vital piece of the response to me.

Why advocating for the gifted in underfunded schools and where kids are in poverty is VITAL
a) Raising the top students of a school tends to raise the whole school more than any other approach we have tried.

b) The argument that one should not ask for specific spending on gifted is, to me, like not asking for SPED money for special education students -->
gifted education is not a FRILL. It is a need.

c) When you consider that gifted programs are often getting less than a penny on the dollar, asking for spending on gifted is not exactly asking for much - As a quick example... in the Texas 2011-2012 legislative cycle, Gifted Education got $56 million. The full budget for that cycle was $91 billion. Gifted got .0006 (or .06%).

d) The funding of gifted programs is itself a red herring. Pull-out programs are among the least cost-effective ways to meet the needs of gifted kids.

If you want to serve the kids in poverty, then more attention to gifted kids (or even some!) is going to have a more beneficial result than less attention will. This is the sub-population within the gifted that is hurt *most* by abandonment of the fight.

And dropping the gifted word makes that advocacy harder, not easier.

Children matter - not just gifted children
When I was previously teaching in the public schools, my principal, after observing class, wondered to me: "I get why you are good with the bright kids - it's why I hired you! But why are you good with the slow kids?!"

I explained to him that I teach people, not subjects, and that I sought to understand what each kid knew and how each kid learned and how each kid needed to have their needs met, to the best of my ability.

Why I advocate for gifted children
I advocate for gifted children because they lack sufficient advocacy. I advocate for funds for gifted children because their needs are no less real and because in a vacuum of such advocacy, the voices for other children are heard and gifted children's needs are set aside.

I push for that funding because it is a drop in the bucket compared with the rest of academic funding - and because the argument that if they give gifted kids funding, then they will have to cut funding for other programs is a FALSE argument designed to divide and to set populations against each other, making it harder for BOTH to have their needs met.

In pushing for certain additional children to be included in a certain program, an administrator noted that it was totally to be expected that I would advocate for my program. He didn't get it! If there were no need for them to be in the program, I would not want them there - that would do nothing to help the kids already in it, while possibly being negative for everybody concerned.

I advocate for these kids and these programs because even the mediocre programs do something worthwhile that these kids need.

Alternative Words, Part 1
I do not like the term “children of high intelligence” because that is not (all of) what I mean by gifted!”

I mean children with artistic and emotional gifts, leadership and wisdom gifts, and others less readily defined – I mean children for whom their innate higher aptitude leads them to need a qualitatively different kind of support from their parents, their teachers, and their counselors.

Alternative Words, Part 2
My friend noted that she never wants to tell a kid that s/he is ungifted.

Yeah, that is a pretty harsh thing to say, right?

How about "below average?"

"Not tall."

"Not able to dance well enough."

"Not athletic."

We do all of those things. Is it fun? No. We don't have to use "ungifted" to have a problem. "You are not highly intelligent." "You aren't smart enough to be in this program."

Still pretty harsh.

I don't see how changing the word fixes that problem, either.

Alternative Words, Part 3
I oppose the change in terminology not because I am wedded to the word GIFTED, but because the push to change it is a red herring.

I grew up in a school system in which there were no gifted children – it was school policy – but that did nothing to enhance the education of the children of high intelligence, nor to reduce the bullying behaviors toward the children of big vocabularies or the children of androgynous behaviors or the children who got the answers right too often in class by the children who resented kids who would have been called gifted in other schools but were never called that there (or the adults who felt the same way).

I have lived most of my life in a state in which the NAGC affiliate was named the Massachusetts Association for the Advancement of Individual Potential to avoid offense – but it did nothing to advance our cause or to help our children.

I live in a state in which we have a certification for teachers of Academically Advanced learners, but for which there are no courses offered that would lead to such a degree nor an approved pathway for an organization to base a program upon.

To what end, then, changing the word?

The kids still get bullied, the programs still get short shrift, the teachers still get no training.

I work with gifted children - no matter what you call them.

This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page inaugural Blog Hop on The “G” Word (“Gifted”). To read more blogs in this hop, visit this Blog Hop at
 photo Hoagies_Blog_Hop-G-word.jpg
joshwriting: (Default)
One of the things that thoroughly befuddles me is how people can believe that promulgating stereotypes does not promulgate prejudice.

"I've been in lots of countries and it seems to me that the stereotypes of those places was true, so they're not about prejudice."

"Oh, I wasn't saying that people who are into math have no personality, just that I thought people who went to this college were into math and had no personality."

"Jews were all rich money lenders, so it is natural that people should think that they were greedy."

"Germans are violent."

"Stereotypes have to come from somewhere!"

Stereotypes are the foundation of prejudice. "I am against this group because they _____." How is that not just a stereotype with the addition of being against added to it?


And when I am confronted with a stereotype, I am supposed to shut my eyes and my mouth and ignore it.


Josh Shaine


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