Last month in an article titled Gifted Kids Might Be Left Behind, I discussed the fact that the House of Representatives allocated no money for gifted education for fiscal year 2007. The Javits funding is the only funding at the federal level for gifted education. On July 20, the Senate appropriations committee met and allocated $5.25 million to fund all the current programs and the National Research Center on the Talented and Gifted. No new funds are available for innovative programs or different research. This is a significant decrease in funding from 2006, which was over $9.6 million.
I think there are two important points to be made here:
1. On the positive side, advocating at the local state and federal level can make a difference. People who have an interest in gifted education flooded their Senators with letters, emails, telephone calls and more to let them know how important challenging our nation’s brightest students is to the future of the country. There are several gifted advocacy organizations at the state levels and at least one at the national level that help rally the troops when important legislation is pending. These organizations are not large lobbyist groups like the NEA and others. I think this might be a positive thing because it shows me that the people who are making decisions about education in Washington do care what people need and will respond when told what the needs at a local and larger macro levels are.
2. If funding for other mainstream educational programming was reduced by over 40% like is being proposed for the Javits funding, there would be an unbelievable outcry from concerned parents and citizen groups. Why then when dealing with the children that have an extremely high chance for success is the funding decreased, while funding is increased exponentially for students that don’t even have a desire to learn? I guess this is what leveling the playing field looks like. It seems ridiculous to me. Just try to cut some high school football programming by 40% and see what happens. It would probably get ugly.
The allocation process is still not complete and there is a significant difference in the funding that the House of Representatives asked to be set aside-as in $0, and what the Senate asked to be funded ($5.25 million). A conference committee will have to negotiate the difference and hopefully come up with a reasonable compromise before October 1, 2006, which is when the new fiscal year will begin.