From July 14th and ending today, the United Arab Emirates hosted the 12th Asia Pacific Conference on Giftedness at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Center. Yes, you read that right, the Middle East is playing host to a conference aimed “at cementing the region’s commitment to and contribution in consolidating the development of world class standards and best practices for the gifted and talented students’ community.”
In stark contrast gifted and talented (GT) education in the United States is in serious decline. For example, Frederick County in Maryland is expected to phase out GT classes for first and second grade students. According to the Examiner, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) in Alexandria, Virginia, a perennial top performer in the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools list, has been dumbing down the admissions test.
According to the Examiner, “Critics claim that TJ's dumbed-down admissions test was designed to increase enrollment of black and Hispanic students.”
Across the Potomac River, in Montgomery County, Maryland, things are no better. TJHSST’s counterpart, the Montgomery Blair High School Magnet Program has, by many accounts, suffered a similar fate, if not for the same reasons.
Should GT programs be eliminated simply because a disparately small number of minorities are admitted?
According to the just released Global Innovation Index, the United States, once a powerhouse for innovation dropped from seventh place in 2011 to tenth in 2012. While the merits of the ranking can be debated, one can’t ignore the reality that numerous indicators show that the US is failing is best and brightest. For example, according to a recent report, NAEP Science scores were higher than in 2009 for all but the high flyers.
The writing, it seems, is on the wall: the US is failing our best and brightest. Meanwhile the rest of the world is learning from the once robust commitment to GT education that was the hallmark of our education system.