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Obama strips all Gifted and Talented and Advanced Placement education funding. What next?

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education
Wikipedia Common

First, The Obama Administration totally stripped the only funding for gifted and talented education that primarily funded underprivileged but gifted children's education. This was the 37 year old $7.5 million Javits Grant for Gifted and Talented Students.

Next, Obama eliminated the $45.8 million Advanced Placement grant funds to states. This was not to fund the high ability gifted, but the above average student.

Next he scraped the $40 million Arts in Education fund followed by the $42 million Byrd Honors Scholarships. That's a total of $93.3 million stripped from the education programs of all above average students.

With what is the Obama Administration going to replace this $93.3 million "savings". A $4 billion Race to the Top (RttT) program. Yes, that's billion with a B. In other words it would take about 43 years of "savings" to pay for one year of Race to the Top.

Race to the Top is more like Race to the Bottom. When RttT was being formalized, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) requested that high ability children be included in specific parts of the application. They asked for incentives for school districts to match students with ability appropriate curricula. They made the request for an emphasis on closing the achievement gap between the highest performing disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers.

The NAGC then suggested making high-level STEM(science, technology,engineering,mathematics) curriculum available to some learners at earlier grades than the norm. The Obama Administration totally ignored all suggestions and request. RttT only provides support for the under-achieving student population. That sounds a lot like No Child Left Behind without high stakes testing at least for students. But RttT has huge consequences for teachers whose students fail the tests; think "performance-pay"

Ann Sheldon
, Executive Director of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, responded "So what’s the reason for this snub of top students in Race to the Top? ... Could it be that (U.S.)Secretary (of Education Arne) Duncan’s view is that all high ability children are white and wealthy and therefore don’t need any federal support?

Well, what exactly is Race to the Top? At the risk of oversimplification, it is basically the use of publicly funded charter schools. As there are many very good public schools and a number of very bad public schools, the are a few very good publicly funded charter schools and far too many very bad ones; hardly a panacea. But this seems to be Secretary Duncan's solution to everything.

And who is Secretary Duncan and what are his credentials for the top education job in the country? He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology (no education degree) from Harvard where he was a buddy of Barack Obama. He has another huge advantage. Like Obama, he is a member of the Chicago political machine and well practiced in the "Chicago-Way" of doing things.

Unlike most independent school districts, Chicago Public School District is owned by the City of Chicago. Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Duncan to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools(CPS) on June 26, 2001; a political appointment. How many public schools districts in the U. S. are run by district superintendents holding only a bachelors degree and that not in education? Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President-Elect Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2009.

Opinions vary on Duncan's success as CEO of CPS; one prominent publication (Time Magazine) notes improved test scores and describes Duncan as a consensus builder, while another finds the improvements largely a myth and is troubled by the closing of neighborhood schools and their replacement by charter schools, and what it describes as schools' militarization.

Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality? was written by Jitu Brown, Eric (Rico) Gutstein, and Pauline Lipman. They wrote, "Let's separate myth from reality. The myth is that Chicago has created a new, innovative way to improve education...There is a completely different reality on the ground...The community warned CPS that these moves would result in increased violence and put children's lives at risk due to crossing neighborhood and gang boundaries. As usual, Duncan and CPS ignored community wisdom, and the results at all of these schools were destabilizing spikes in student violence."

If you are interested in more of the gory details, click on to the title above.

This is not a Republican issue. It is not a Democrat issue. It is an education issue, and hopefully it's leader knows how to spell "education"

Seeing the time of year it is, this reminds me of the old joke about a new college graduate from (put in the name of whatever university you like) who said, "Four years ago I couldn't even spell enginear, now I are one."

“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?

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Dick Kantenberger
Gifted Education Writer
Houston, TX 77024-4026
(713) 465-6077


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