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Iowa and Delaware politicos seeing GT light- Texas school doesn't wait

Lynette Breedlove, Ph.D..
Lynette Breedlove, Ph.D..
Lynette Breedlove

"Some educators may be so concerned about helping under-achieving
students to succeed that they may neglect gifted students”, said
United State Senator Chuck Grassley (R) from Iowa as reported by
Matt Kelley last week. Senator Grassley is co-sponsoring a bill
which he says insures the needs of students in advanced
placement, or AP classes, are included in federal education
policy.

This is a sharp departure from federal policy when four years ago
the Obama administration stripped all federal funding for AP and
gifted education programs, which had existed since the early
seventies, to fund college scholarships for under-privileged gifted students.

The AP/GT program amounted to about 100 million dollars annually.

The White House replaced it with a 4 billion dollars per year program called Race to the Top that funds grants and scholarships for under-achieving under-privileged students.

At the same time last week Lt. Governor Matt Denn (D) of Delaware
and a group of state legislators want to give the state's
brightest students a chance to shine even brighter as reported by
Ben Szmidt. They are offering legislation to set up grants for
developing gifted and talented programs throughout the state.

Spring Branch ISD in Houston, TX decided not to wait for the
Texas legislature. Spring Branch Superintendent Dr. Duncan F.
Klussmann and the SBISD School Board took the bold move of
actually funding a stand alone GT school (school within a school) within
Spring Branch Independent School District without additional help
from the Texas Legislature.

In Iowa, Senator Grassley said, "As it stands, there is a
shortage of attention given to high ability students, especially
those students in under-served settings, and that could include
most of rural America". The legislation would make sure AP
students are included in the planning process at the district and
state levels.

Grassley went on to say, "If they (AP and GT students) are not
challenged, some advanced students may get bore with school, quit
applying themselves or even drop out". He says the bill would
modify federal education policy to develop and encourage more
achievement from high-ability students

"America can not afford to ignore the needs of its brightest
students", Grassley says, "and by doing so, squander the
potential that they bring to our country, as well as their own
potential". The bill stipulates existing teacher quality grants
would be used to help improve the achievements of all students, including those in the gifted and talented programs.

Grassley finished by saying "Gifted students don't get the
attention they deserve", adding, "the advancement of those
students will help to enhance the future prosperity of our
nation" .

In Delaware, Lt. Governor Denn's bill, public schools would compete for
two year start up grants to create programs or expand ones
already in place. The grants would be awarded based on a school's
current accelerated learning programs, proposed curriculum, and
the qualifications of teachers in the school.

"Many elementary and middle school students in our state are not
being sufficiently challenged" said Dunn. "Some of the have
access to an hour or two of specialized programming in their
schools but there are very few schools in Delaware where a
student capable of doing very advanced work has an opportunity to
do it for most or all of the school day."

The bill's primary sponsor, Representative Darryl Scott (D-
Dover), says the legislation reflects the importance of engaging
all students. "it is a good investment since studies show that
gifted and talented programs need minimal funding beyond their
start-up cost" said Scott.

Dunn added, "when new revenue comes available, it's generally the
well thought out programs that tend to attract state funds. So
our goal is to have this bill passed and signed promptly so that
this program will exist and be a candidate for state funds if
they should become available"

In Texas, Spring Branch ISD in Houston does not wait for state
support and action. The new Spring Branch School for Highly Gifted Students was designed and is being implemented by Dr. Lynette Breedlove, the district's Director of Advanced Academic Studies. Breedlove is the immediate past-President of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.

Breedlove actually designed the program several years ago, but when the Texas Legislature severely cut school district funding, the program was put on hold.

The new school is funded by Spring Branch and will begin operation
at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The first year the school will operate K through 4th grade with an additional grades added each year. Applications are being accepted now for the 2013-2014 school year. For information call 713-251-1901.

This is a welcomed reversal of what we are seeing elsewhere in
the state. In 2009, The University of Texas stripped all funding
for its National Merit Scholar program, and used all the money
to provide college scholarships for under-privileged student who could not afford college.

The Texas legislature is currently in session and hopefully they
will follow the lead of Iowa and Delaware is supporting gifted
education.

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Dick Kantenberger

National Gifted Education Writer, Examiner.com

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Houston, TX 77024-4026

713-206-9343

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