Archive for the ‘Advocacy and policy’ Category

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education (GAGE) to hold fall consortium

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education, one of the most active gifted advocacy groups in metro Atlanta, will hold its Fall Consortium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Mason Elementary School in Duluth.

The meeting will begin with a keynote address by Janet Aeker Smith, who has 30 years of experience in education, including creating gifted education policy in Australia. Attendees can then choose from a variety of breakout sessions covering topics such as math, reading, STEM projects, humor and attitude, critical thinking and differentiation.

Registration opens at 8 a.m.; the keynote speech will begin at 8:30 a.m. The event is scheduled to end at 12:30 p.m.

Admission is free for GAGE members; non-members may join GAGE at the door for $25. Gwinnett County teachers and administrators can become members for $20.

For more information, contact Laura Magner of Gwinnett County Schools.

Could conversion to charter system affect gifted services in Fulton County?

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

A reader recently wrote to me with concerns about Fulton County Schools potentially becoming a charter system. The Charter System Concept Summary presented by the school system shows that under a charter model, local schools could “restructure” the current Talented and Gifted (TAG) model. This reader wondered whether eligibility criteria would change, whether TAG would continue to be offered as a full-day, pull-out class, and even whether schools could opt out of TAG altogether.

I checked in with my sources, and I’m told that state law requires all school systems — even charter systems — to provide gifted education, and the state sets the eligibility criteria for gifted services. However, local schools within a charter system could change the delivery model for gifted services, if they applied for and were granted the flexibility to do so. What exactly they could do in terms of “restructuring” isn’t clear.

Bottom line, if you’re concerned about the TAG program under a charter model, consider attending one of FCS’s three Charter System Town Hall Meetings being held this week:

  • Monday, Oct. 3, at Milton Center
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Lake Forrest Elementary School
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, at Westlake High School

All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.


Valdosta State University presents Gifted Summit

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University invites the public to its Gifted Summit, to be held on the university campus on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011.

Dr. Thomas Hébert, Ph.D., will present morning and afternoon keynote speeches. Dr. Hébert is professor of educational psychology at the University of Georgia, where he teaches graduate courses in gifted and creative education. He also is author of the newly released book, Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students.

The morning keynote will focus on the social and emotional needs of gifted students; the afternoon remarks will address how to create classroom environments that support gifted students’ social and emotional development. The program’s agenda also includes afternoon breakout sessions to discuss particular concerns and interests.

The program is free, but requires preregistration by e-mailing the Center for Gifted Studies or by calling (229) 249-2777.

DeKalb County Schools seeks community input on the future

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

DeKalb County Schools is hosting what it’s calling a “community engagement session” on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 6-9 p.m. at the school system’s headquarters in Stone Mountain.

My source tells me the meeting will begin with remarks from the newly hired superintendent, Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson. Then, those attending the meeting will be broken out into smaller groups to discuss what they think the future should look like in DeKalb County Schools.

The school system hosted similar meetings last year, but those were focused on infrastructure and facilities. This week’s session promises to focus on curriculum and learning.

Whether you think your school is doing a great, mediocre or lousy job in gifted education, I believe it’s worth coming to this meeting so that the gifted community is represented. If you can’t attend the meeting, you will be able to complete a survey on the school district’s web site Sept. 21-30.

New report compares gifted populations among schools nationwide

August 14, 2011 Leave a comment

A basic tenet of advocacy for gifted education is that gifted children come from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. That’s why advocates are always pushing for equal access to gifted education for all children, regardless of their family’s income.

Unfortunately, in many cases, children in schools that serve wealthier kids still get more opportunities than poorer children. That was the stated conclusion of a new study released by ProPublica, a non-profit, investigative journalism group. ProPublica compared schools, districts and states across the nation, evaluating the percentage of kids who take gifted or advanced classes, and how that percentage differed according to the wealth of the student population (as measured by the number of children receiving free or reduced price lunch).

The good news is that overall, Georgia seems to do better than some states in giving all children access to advanced learning. We have a higher percentage of disadvantaged children than the national average, yet we have a slightly higher rate of enrollment in gifted programs — 11 percent —  than the national average. We also do better than the national average in terms of the percentage of our students who take advanced math, chemistry and Advanced Placement classes.

However, the results for metro Atlanta schools show that school districts with more underprivileged children do have a lower rate of enrollment in gifted programs.

To see the data for yourself, go to the Georgia results page. From there, you can drill down to view results for your school district and, in some cases, your individual school. (Not every school is listed in the data.)


Categories: Advocacy and policy

Commission will determine future of student funding in Georgia

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

If you’re familiar with how schools are funded in Georgia, you’ve probably heard of QBE funding. (If you didn’t know, the QBE stands for Quality Basic Education.) In short, QBE funding is an allotment of money that every public school in Georgia receives based on the number of students they have enrolled. Some types of students — including gifted students — are funded at a higher rate, giving schools additional dollars to be used to meet their special needs.

[Note: Because of economic hardships and cuts in education funding overall, the state does not exercise any controls over the money it allocates via QBE funding. Schools and school systems have broad authority to redirect funds. So, although schools receive an additional amount for gifted students, that money is not always spent on gifted instruction. But that’s another post for another time.]

The QBE formula was developed in the 1980s and hasn’t been updated much since then. But that could be changing soon, as a newly formed commission has begun working on reviewing and possibly reforming the funding system. (I say “could be changing” because this is the sixth effort to revamp the formula, and the previous five task forces and committees didn’t change much.)

The State Education Finance Study Commission met for the first time at the end of June. I was there, and the question of how much money it takes to educate a gifted child was raised as something to evaluate.

That question, if it’s to be addressed, would fall under the realm of Subcommittee 1. Members of that subcommittee are:

  • Georgia Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville)
  • Scott Austensen, from the Office of Finance and Business Operations of the Georgia Department of Education
  • Jadun McCarthy, Georgia Teacher of the Year, an English teacher at Northeast High School in Bibb County
  • Dr. L.C. “Buster” Evans, superintendent of Forsyth County Schools
  • Georgia Representative Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta)

This subcommittee will hold its first meeting on July 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 20th floor of the Twin Towers East legislative building downtown.

In the first meeting of the Commission, chairmen Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) and Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) both encouraged people to get involved and share information with the subcommittees. I think the best way to do that is to attend the meetings and — when given the opportunity — share my point of view. That’s what I’ll be doing, and I will keep you posted via this blog.

You could also contact members of the subcommittee with your thoughts about funding for gifted education. I’ve looked up their e-mail addresses for you, so you can write to them simply by clicking on their names above. (Sorry, couldn’t find an address for Jadun McCarthy.)

You can also follow the work of the Commission and subcommittee via its dedicated web page on the Department of Education web site.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Legislative news: U.S. Congress now considering the TALENT Act to support gifted education

May 11, 2011 1 comment

Legislation that would establish new standards for gifted education has been introduced in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

The TALENT Act (To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers Act) was introduced in both houses of Congress in recent weeks. Elements of the bill would:

  • require states, districts and schools to measure the academic growth and performance of high-ability students.
  • support research into teaching methods that are most effective with gifted students.
  • provide grants for teachers to learn new techniques to use with gifted students, with priority given to schools where high ability students are typically under-served.

The National Association of Gifted Children provides a summary of the bill on its web site, or you can read the full text of the House version or Senate version.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), one of the sponsors in the Senate, concluded his remarks introducing the bill with this statement:

For too long, Federal education policy has been so focused on preventing failure that we have neglected to promote and encourage success. We can no longer afford to ignore the needs of our brightest students and thus squander their potential. My legislation will put our country on track to tap that potential which is so essential to the future happiness of the students and the future prosperity of our Nation.

(If you have a minute, Sen. Grassley’s moving and pointed statement is worth reading in its entirety.)

The TALENT Act is in the Senate as S.857 and in the House as H.R. 1674. In both houses, the bill has been referred to the committee that handles education matters.

This legislation is sorely needed to help our gifted and talented students achieve at their best. I encourage you to voice your support for the TALENT Act. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact our U.S. Senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, and ask them to cosponsor S.857, the TALENT Act. Sen. Isakson serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which has the bill now, so it’s also appropriate to encourage him to work with the committee to return the bill to the full House with a favorable report as soon as possible.
  2. Contact your Representative in the U.S. House. (The “Find Your Representative” tool on the U.S. House web site makes it simple to locate and contact the right person.) Ask him or her to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1674, the TALENT Act. No Representatives from Georgia are on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which has the bill.

I will be keeping an eye on both of these bills and will keep you posted on their progress.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

April 29 will be Gifted Education Day in Georgia

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I had posted previously that April 29, 2011 would be a legislative advocacy day coordinated by the Georgia Association for Gifted Children (GAGC). Looks like I got it wrong. Advocates for gifted education will not be converging on the capitol that day.

What is going to happen is that Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign a proclamation next week which will designate April 29, 2011 as Gifted Education Day in Georgia. While GAGC is not planning any activities for that day, they encourage grassroots recognition of the day.

So, it’s a good day to show your appreciation for gifted teachers, or to conduct awareness and advocacy activities with your legislator or school board member. GAGC has posted other suggested activities on its web site, although most of them look more appropriate for teachers than parents. (Click on the plus sign when you arrive at the linked page to see the information.)

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Well said: articles that remind me why I’m an advocate for the gifted

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Whether working on this blog or advocating for my family’s particular needs, thinking about the needs of highly capable children takes up a good bit of my mental real estate.

Even so, sometimes I need an infusion of enthusiasm, something to remind me why gifted education matters so much — to my child, my school, my country. Here are two articles I read recently that have helped me stay fired up.

If these inspire you as they do me, and if you’re wondering what you can do about it, here’s an idea: Mark your calendar for April 29, 2011. That will be when the Georgia Association for Gifted Children puts on Gifted Day at the capitol downtown. I will provide more details on the day as I get them.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Gifted Education Press Quarterly spring issue is online now

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Gifted Education Press Quarterly has posted its Spring 2011 issue. GEPQ is a free, online publication that focuses on high-level matters of gifted education policy and pedagogy.

The current issue includes an article on excuses that are commonly given for not allowing advanced students to fully develop their math ability — and why those excuses may not hold water; and an article on why gifted students need to be taught by gifted-certified teachers.

If you like GEPQ, you can sign up to be notified whenever a new issue is posted by sending an e-mail request to the publisher.

Categories: Advocacy and policy