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California and Texas Legislatures find ways of passing the tough decisions to others

When push comes to shove, the California and Texas legislatures found ways to pass the tough decisions on to others. California is in a “bunch of trouble” financially. They previously funded some Gifted Education projects for the coming year. That’s the good news. I guess I should say that was the good news.

With a shortage of funds for just about everything in California, the legislature found a way to perhaps take the money away by passing the final decision on to the school districts.

It was no surprise California cut almost all education program funds by 20%. They also made the monies previously dedicated to gifted programs “flexible” for school districts so that they no longer have to allocate those funds to programs for gifted students. Don’t you just love that word flexible.

The California Legislature is telling the California school districts “you make the decision to use the money either for gifted programs or for something else if that is your need”. In other words, you take the blame, not us. Dana Reupert, President of the California Association for the Gifted said, “As the school year begins, we will be monitoring to see how districts are actually allocating and serving gifted students“. Good luck, and I’m not being facetious.

Texas on the other hand has been trying to strengthen Gifted Education any way it can. Previously the Texas Legislature “mandated” certification for Gifted &Talented teachers that find and teach Gifted Education students, but then they made the certification optional; finally deciding that sitting through 30 clock-hours of lectures with no testing was enough. This is despite the fact that Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana all require a master’s degree in order to teach gifted students, and we just sit through lectures un-tested.

The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented tried to get the 81st Texas Legislature to fund some gifted programs and better define mandates on other rules concerning Gifted Education. When this did not seem forthcoming they asked the Legislature to fund programs previously passed.

What they did get was an accountability bill to determine if the State was actually meeting the Performance Standard previously passed. And I have to say, we would not have gotten that if it were not for the efforts of Representative Scott Hochberg of Houston.

The bill says:

Sec. 39.236. GIFTED AND TALENTED STANDARDS. The (Education) Commissioner shall adopt a standard to evaluate school district programs for gifted and talented students in accordance with:
(1) the Texas Performance Standards project; or
(2) another program approved by the commission that meets the requirements of the state plan for the education of gifted and talented students under Section 29.123.

A spokesman for the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented said “Despite our efforts, no incentive money is in the bill for (school) districts to move into the direction of the Performance Standards or comparable curriculum. That may well become a goal for the next legislative session”

So just like the California Association for the Gifted, as the school year begins, we too will be monitoring to see just what the Texas Education Commissioner will actually do and decide.

“By…(selecting) the youth of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use if not sought for and cultivated”. Thomas Jefferson, 1772

We did not listen then. Will we now?

Dick Kantenberger
Gifted Education Writer
(713) 206-9343