I’ve written a bit about the gifted population before. As a whole– I mean the whole “talented and gifted” category– it’s not really that small a percentage of the population. By actual definition, anywhere between six and ten percent of children should technically qualify for TAG programming. While obviously not the majority, neither is this a teeny tiny number.
This is important to note only because it doesn’t align with what some people consider “gifted.” Many people think that that label is for the truly exceptional and elite– the rare one (or) two in a million who can do amazing feats. But this isn’t really the case. Gifted and talented children, like any group of people, span a range of abilities and skill-sets.
Realizing this, it’s somewhat surprising, and maybe even alarming, how few school districts actually have gifted programming in place. Ours is actually a rarity, even here in Connecticut where schools tend to do very well in the rankings.
Still, almost every time budget talks come up, the position of gifted coordinator– held by ONE person who handles six schools!– is on the chopping block. It’s not considered a necessity and people have to fight to keep her in place.
I just learned she’ll be retiring in January.
Even though it wasn’t a tremendous shock, I felt a bit like I’d had the breath knocked out of me.
Scared that they won’t replace her. Scared that the position won’t make the budget cut. Scared that our gifted children will get tossed in the mix, assumptions made that “they’re smart– they’ll do just fine.”
It’s not fair.
I sound like a whiny little preschooler, but it’s just not.
These kids– they have the potential to do SO much. They are bright, motivated learners and explorers. They are frequently the ones who do great things that bring the positive sort of attention to the town.
Surely they are worth the salary of ONE person.
I fret about it. And I get irritated that it often seems like test scores are more important than these individual little spirits.
A’s standardized test scores came in the mail the other day. The SBAC. That stands for “smarter balanced blah blah blah.” I don’t know how much “smarter” it is, but I know that they put a whole lot of value on these scores.
I opened the envelope, vaguely curious, though unconcerned with the results.
Both language arts and math.
Honestly? I don’t really care. These numbers don’t change who my son is. Not one bit.
But in an age when so very much worth and value is placed on these SCORES that they produce and how they reflect on the town, I won’t lie to you…
A part of me really wants to just scrawl “YOU’RE WELCOME. Now don’t cut TAG funding.” across it and mail it right back to the superintendent’s office.
Maybe that’s what it’ll take to remind them why these kids are so important.