A Plea for the Smart Kids

I teach gifted students.  It is amazing.  I have found my calling in life and I love it.

And yet, I teach gifted students in Ohio, and this is not as amazing.  The politicians in Ohio are insistent on denying these very special students the rights that they deserve and need.

I’m here to ask you for help.

A while ago, our State Assembly agreed that what little money schools get for gifted doesn’t really have to go to gifted.  So if, say, the school needs a new set of science textbooks instead, they can use their gifted money to purchase them.

I’m lucky.  I work for a wonderful school district that values gifted students and understands their potential.  My school district not only spends its gifted money on its program, it goes above and beyond and actually spends more.  Which is a darn good thing, since what Ohio designates as a gifted budget is a pittance.

But now, there is more trouble.  In order to teach gifted students, I had to take five graduate school classes that did their very best to teach me to teach gifted.  Don’t get me wrong, the classes were great.  But gifted students are so special and amazing and unpredictable that there are still days when I completely feel out of my depth.

That happens, sometimes.  When you are trying to teach a class of students that sometimes understand the material in ways you never will.  It happens, sometimes, when I plan lessons a grade level above my students and they prove to me in the lesson’s first seconds that they are really three grade levels above.

Gifted students are, in every sense of the word, special education students.  “Special ed” seems to carry the connotation that students who need it are doing poorly in school, but that is just not true.  Special education is just that.  It is for students who are special.  They need special ways to learn.

Yet our Ohio politicians think that teachers should not need any more graduate classes before they teach gifted students.  My endorsement will become a moot point.  I am in no way denigrating regular classroom teachers, but you need special training for these kids.

You need to know how to teach them how to reach their potential when the whole world is telling them “You can do anything!” and they don’t know where to begin.

You need to know how to help them deal with the social and emotional issues that occur when their friends are all worried about their texting limits but they can’t fall asleep at night because they are worried about global warming and its effect on the future.

You need to know how to teach them to turn their creativity into great avenues like writing and making new things instead of destruction from boredom.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not claiming I can always do all of that for every kid.  But my endorsement and classes sure help me out.

How can our state government expect someone with no additional training to truly be able to help these kids?  In a time when our government is demanding a special certificate to teach reading, a special licensure for special education, for teaching middle school math, and on and on…they are trying to demand less training for our gifted students.  The students that could change the world.  The students that, perhaps, need the special teachers with the special training the most.

If “fair” is defined as each learner getting what he or she needs to learn, how can our state call this fair?  How can they even propose such a thing?

If these revisions pass, I foresee a future in which gifted students stay in regular classrooms.  And in these regular classrooms, their teachers, who are so amazing but already stretched to the breaking point, will not have time to prepare differentiated instruction for the students that are already getting straight A’s.  They will not have time to deal with the emotional and social issues that come with a student that looks like an eight-year-old in almost every way, but thinks like a twenty-year-old.

And these students, these most special students, will wither on the vine.  They will grow bored and apathetic because their needs are not being met.

Please help me stop this from happening.  If you know a gifted student, or a gifted parent, or a gifted teacher, or even if you just care about these kids, or kids in general, please go to:

http://www.oagc.com

and click on the “Advocacy” tab.  Let our state politicians know that taking away from our gifted students is not ok now, and never will be.

Thanks for listening.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. anngift
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 21:27:32

    Thanks for this. The best link is http://www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyalert . We need people to be outraged by what the lack of support for our gifted children.

    Reply

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