Identifying G/T students from diverse backgrounds requires teacher training, specific and updated testing, and the time and energy of a committee. All of these require protected and dedicated funding to ensure quality programming.

I was proud to offer an amendment to HB 3 on the floor on Tuesday to put the dedicated funding allotment for G/T back into the school finance plan. The amendment would have also reiterated that nothing in HB 3 limits the ability for a district to identify and provide services to more than five percent of the student population as G/T students.

Read the entire column by Representative Ramos’ in the Rio Grand Guardian.

Texas Representative Ana-Maria Ramos

My family supports GT education because gifted students come from all cultural and economic backgrounds. Public schools have a duty to meet the needs of every student, including high ability students. When districts don’t have strong gifted programs, GT parents with resources are forced to put their children in private school or to try homeschooling. Where does that leave children who don’t have those options? GT educators work so that all children with advanced educational needs are able to learn in school – including children from ALL backgrounds and income levels.

Texas parent

A Gifted/Talented program is important in so many ways!

Not only do GT programs provide opportunities for challenging academics, a GT program provides students with opportunities to grow emotionally and socially.

A GT program provides students with an outlet where they can collaborate with other GT students and take academic and creative risks.

A GT program provides students with a knowledgeable teacher who specializes in Gifted education.

A GT program provides resources for parents of identified GT students.

A GT program provides general education teachers with training and resources for differentiation in the regular classroom.

All of these aspects of a GT program are vital to the growth of identified GT students!

Paula Fippinger, Advanced Academics Coordinator, Bridgeport ISD

Texas PTA has included “gifted and talented” in its list of Legislative Positions: “Funding for Specific Areas: PTA supports continued state funding of pre-K, kindergarten, bilingual education, vocational education, compensatory education, gifted and talented, special handicapped needs, textbooks, education service centers, libraries and community education.”

Read more about Texas PTA State Advocacy.

Texas PTA

Why would the Texas Legislature knowingly choose to defund the education of the brightest children?

The answer is simple: it’s popular. It is easy to kick-around gifted education. It is easy to make jokes about nerdy and unathletic kids. And it is easy to not worry about gifted kids because everyone knows they will do fine on their own. Right? Wrong.

Do any of the following complaints about gifted education sound familiar? “Allowing students to accelerate puts them at a social disadvantage.” “It is not fair to spend extra money on these kids.” “If these kids get to do something special, it will hurt others’ feelings.” Now, instead of gifted students, use the above examples in reference to a high school varsity football team. We not only allow varsity athletes to be on teams based on ability, not age, but we also spend large amounts of school money on the programs. Lastly, we have showcases for students to display their talents during games. We, as a society, have no problem with talents and gifts as long as they are athletic, musical, or artistic. Something else happens when these gifts or talents are intellectual.

This “something else” is a contradiction called anti-intellectualism.

Read the rest of the article published on Medium.

Meredith Austin, Ed.D.

From Understood: 7 Myths About Twice-Exceptional (2E) Students. ”

Myth #5: Addressing weaknesses should be the top priority when helping 2E students.

The National Education Association stresses that programs for 2E learners should be individualized to meet both special education and gifted needs. One isn’t more important than the other.

Some school districts even have individualized learning plans to address specialized instruction for gifted students. Others have special programs to address the unique needs of 2E students. No matter how your school handles it, playing to your child’s strengths is best practice.

Amanda Morin

In the United States, our goal is to provide a free and appropriate education for all children. Yet children with advanced cognitive ability are likely to enter their classrooms having mastered over half of the curriculum before the first day. Gifted young people have an intense intellectual curiosity and are eager to explore and learn, but they are often destined for days filled with repetition, lack of engagement and boredom. This is a tragic circumstance for those with such great potential to change our country and our world for the better.

Advanced learners who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are especially at risk of being unidentified, underserved and thus unmotivated. Since the turn of the 20th century, educators and policy makers have grown increasingly aware of this issue, making small waves of progress at times in support of gifted students, yet nothing has taken hold.

The lack of services for these students is an issue that has been smoldering for decades and a crime for the individual and our community. According to the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, of the 37 states that mandate gifted youth are served, only four have programs that are fully funded, 24 are partially funded, and nine states mandate services but are not funded at all. Of the 13 states with no mandate, nine have no dollars going towards advanced learners, and five only have partially funded programs. These numbers are dismal.

As Chester Finn, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, once put it: “If we cannot bring ourselves to push smart kids as far as they can go, we will watch and eventually weep as other countries surpass us in producing tomorrow’s inventors, entrepreneurs, artists and scientists.”

IEA Website. 

Institute for Educational Advancement

From Motherly: “The most common problem I see in my work is the child who is struggling in school because he doesn’t think or learn at the same level or in the same way as the rest of the classroom.

“In fact, gifted kids are more likely than any other population to be misdiagnosed. While their needs would be best met through more, faster, and different avenues in education, they may instead be put in special ed classes where the pace is slower and memorization is often emphasized. This exacerbates their boredom and can lead to depression, higher incidence of ADHD symptoms, acting out, and deep self-esteem and social issues.

“The result: we have a recipe for disaster and suffering for both the gifted child and for other students in her classroom. Years later, the impact remains as many gifted adults today ironically don’t view themselves as smart and are underusing their strengths.”

Teresa Currivan Keep the Gifted Allotment in Place in House Bill 3

A repeal of the G/T allotment will de-emphasize the importance of gifted education in Texas affecting more than 400,000 students. … Allowing all funding to go through general funding will not assure that gifted education WILL gets its proper funding!! Although HB3 has required districts to provide a gifted program, it has not defined parameters of what is required, nor has it defined how it will be certified. Without required parameters, districts can implement a skeleton program that will not meet the specific needs and requirements for this group of students. Petition

Other states have made similar funding changes in the past for gifted education programs, with unexpected consequences. For example, in 2009, the state of Ohio chose to move their G/T funds to its general education funds. As a result, complaints of inequities in G/T services increased to such extent over the next 9 years that in 2018, the Ohio General Assembly mandated the Ohio Education Agency to conduct a research study on the costs of G/T programming within the state. The study reached two important conclusions:

  1. Students in need of services were no longer being identified: “Within this picture, there is a lower rate of identification and there may be under-identification of students in poor rural (12.7 percent), urban (8.8 percent) and major urban (9.7 percent) school districts.”
  2. Program accountability needed to be improved: “Ohio’s school funding formula provides funding for gifted education. However, this funding flows into school district general funds without a requirement that these resources be spent exclusively for their intended gifted education purpose. Fiscal and programmatic accountability would be increased by stipulating that state gifted funding must be based on the number of students identified and/or served and that these funds be used exclusively for gifted education provided by school districts or through sanctioned outsourcing. Foundation funds currently earmarked for use by educational service centers (ESC) for gifted education could be treated in the same manner.”

More information on this study and its results can be found here. However, the results of this study show that Texas could run the risk of underidentifying G/T students in Texas without funding, along with possible issues of fiscal and program accountability.

From the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented

Ohio restores GT allotment after 10 years of increased inequity in GT services