Wednesday, December 27

Gifted Issues in the Media (argh!)

An article in the North County Times about some parents' concerns regarding their local gifted program, really misrepresented the issues, in my opinion.

Here's my Letter to the Editor:

Keith Rushing's article on the possible conflict between Gifted and Talented programs and other special needs programs really missed the point. The quoted father, Van Doren, is right to be concerned about gifted programs in his school district losing funding but his concerns were not well represented. Instead, Rushing boarded the bandwagon of misunderstanding about giftedness and highlighted an either/or conflict between gifted and other special needs.

Sadly, Rushing's journalistic focus supports the myth that gifted kids are just kids with loud, privileged parents trying to get more resources for their own. The reality is that gifted students, who may have mental functioning two, three or even four standard deviations from the norm, have intellectual, social and academic special needs vastly different from those of their peers.

Because of the far-too-common belief that smart kids will do fine, or that they are "already privileged" either because of their intelligence or because of their perceived socio-economic status, gifted students are often the very last in line for special services, though they need them as much as, say English-learning students. I believe this was the point which Van Doren may have been trying to make, but which was lost in the face of so much basic misunderstanding of the needs faced by gifted children, which unfortunately, Rushing's article does little to correct.

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