In front of the Texas Senate Education Committee at the Capitol in Austin, two of SAGE’s gifted students spoke about the importance of gifted education.
Amelia Phoenix, 9, and Katie Warren, 13, of Grapevine Colleyville ISD testified April 25th, 2019, making the case to include the G/T allotment in House Bill 3.
In response, Chairman Larry Taylor confirmed that the G/T allotment will be added back into the bill through a floor amendment by the Sen. Jane Nelson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Scroll down to see video and read the script of the students’ testimony.
Amelia and Katie in the front row share testimony with Texas Senator Larry Taylor and the Senate Education Committee.
Text of the Students’ Testimony
Hello! My name is Amelia Phoenix and I’m in the third grade at Glenhope Elementary in the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. I oppose House Bill 3 and the repeal of the GT allotment.
Lots of people think that being GT just means you are smarter, but it really means our brains work differently and we think with depth and complexity. So, yes, for some of us that means we can learn some things faster and easier than other kids but it also has some down sides. Many GT kids also have overexcitabilities – such as getting worked up easily, being over dramatic and feeling like things have to be perfect. We feel a lot of pressure to be smart and that can make us feel sad, or anxious or even angry. We need teachers who understand these intensities and how to deal with them. Teachers who will teach us how to fail and then how to keep trying.
One common characteristic of gifted kids that I share is a need for fairness … and I don’t think what you are doing to GT kids is fair. Because we have different needs too. Maybe our needs are not as obvious but that doesn’t make them less important. Just like a kid with dyslexia needs special help to learn to read, gifted kids need special help for our differences and we deserve state funding also.
My district is fortunate to have a strong GT program so I’m not here to fight for me and my friends or for my school and my district but to fight for other districts and kids that don’t have a voice. I want all districts to have a GT program like mine – a quality program where every kid deserves to be challenged and understood and where every child deserves to have a years’ worth of growth EVERY YEAR.
This is why I’m asking you to reinstate the GT allotment. This is important to me and I can come back in 2 years and ask again. And 2 years after that. And on and on. Until one day I hope to be sitting in your seat. Because you see, another characteristic of gifted kids is we are super tenacious. We don’t give up, we ask why–a LOT! Well, you could ask my mom how often I just take no for an answer.
Thank you for your time today! I appreciate you listening to my story about being gifted and peeking behind the curtain of SMART to see why gifted kids should be designated as a special population.
Thank you, Chairman and the Committee members, for the opportunity to testify about this bill. My name is Katie Warren. I am thirteen years old in seventh grade, and I’m in the ASPIRE academy program for highly gifted students in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. I oppose House Bill 3 and the removal of the GT allotment.
Many of you may think that it’s okay to put gifted and talented education’s allotment into the general funding. But we can learn from the example of the school districts of Ohio, who tried the same thing that’s being suggested in 2009: moving gifted funding into the general allotment. What happened there was that fewer kids were identified as gifted, including English language learners and twice-exceptional students. Gifted services drastically declined as well. Ohio’s education committee decided to reinstate their gifted funding, giving us a good example of what could happen to gifted education in the state of Texas. You could have your school districts promise to give us an allotment within the general fund, but what they deign to give us will likely not be enough. Without an allotment or designated funding, gifted education is an unfunded mandate.
If you haven’t personally experienced the difference between a traditional teacher and a gifted teacher, then it is hard to understand why we need specialists that are passionate about teaching gifted students in a different way. We, the gifted students of Texas, all have different strengths and different weaknesses. Having well-trained teachers that are willing to not only adjust the pace of our learning to our individual needs, but go in-depth for those who express a passion in the topic and for those who want to learn more, is crucial to our unique fast-paced and in-depth style of learning. Gifted teachers go beyond the norm to provide us with a stimulating and tailored learning experience, such as helping us study our passions, whether it be the South American olinguito, Shakespeare, advanced math, psychology, public service, or all of the above.
My school district is lucky enough to have an excellent parent advocacy group and fantastic staff that advocate for gifted education, as well as knowledgeable administrators that understand the importance of gifted funding. Our school board is concerned with our problems and listens to the gifted kids. However, school boards change and school staffing changes, so our status quo is not guaranteed. There are gifted students in less fortunate districts in Texas whose administrators don’t see funding for gifted education as a pressing issue. If gifted and talented funds were moved to the general allotment, such districts might minimize gifted services to make room for other things. We, as Texas’ gifted citizens, rely on you, our elected officials, to make laws to protect kids no matter where they live or how much money their family has, and serve our gifted learning difference. Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.