Gifted Kids Might Be “Left Behind”

The Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Act was originally part of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1988 and is the only federally sponsored program that specifically seeks to help gifted and talented students. Funding for the education program goes through the normal federal appropriations process. Before the July 4th recess congress failed to vote on the Javits program.

According to the National Association for Gifted Children (www.nagc.org), the Javits program has three primary components:

(1) the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, which provides a forum for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and others to work together to design and conduct research and ensure that it informs educational policy and practice;

(2) competitive demonstration grants to institutions of higher education and state and local education agencies to develop and expand models serving students who are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs; and

(3) since 2001, there are competitive grants to state agencies and school districts to implement programs that would enhance gifted education offerings statewide.

Before the holiday break, the House appropriations committee allocated absolutely no money for the Javits program. It is expected that the Senate Education appropriations subcommittee will meet on July 18, 2006 to make a decision on education funding for fiscal year 2007. Education groups are mobilizing to ask senators to step in and allocate a reasonable amount of funding for this one of a kind program. Over the past four years Javits funding has decreased from approximately $11 million to $9.5 million in 2006.

The lack of funding seems inequitable in the age of “No Child Left Behind.” It seems like gifted and talented kids might not be getting what they need to excel let alone meet their unique needs. Gifted kids can’t be left alone in a classroom and be expected to fend for themselves. They have special needs that need to be recognized by schools and met as much as possible. America needs this next generation of rocket scientists, and mathematical geniuses as much as these students need an appropriate education.

If you are interested in helping to ensure that all children, including the nations brightest receive the education they need, please follow this link to the National Association for Gifted Children website. This group advocates on behalf of gifted children and their families at both the state and federal levels. Their website offers advice as to the appropriate Senators to contact, how to contact them and what to say. Please be advised that if you wish to let your opinion be known, it must be done by July 17, 2006 to have any possible effect on the Senate appropriations committee meeting on July 18.

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