Shortchanging High Achievers
Summer programs for gifted students are on the chopping block.

Friday, July 3, 2009

IT'S HARD TO argue that Maryland's summer centers for the gifted and talented are essential. After all, those selected for the program are high achievers, and would remain high achievers even without this opportunity. Nonetheless, it is regrettable that the only statewide program targeting this unique population is on the chopping block.

The Maryland Summer Centers Program faces extinction after 42 years because of the state's economic problems. The program, as The Post's Donna St. George reported, gives students in fourth through 12th grades the opportunity for intensive study in languages, physics and other specialty areas. The program is partly covered by student tuition, but Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the General Assembly, facing a very real budget shortfall, cut the program from the state budget. That means that this summer, in which 747 students are signed up, could be the last.

Without question, the state is right to place a priority on the needs of struggling students; resources should go to help the children furthest behind. But there is evidence (and Maryland is not alone) that gifted students don't get the attention that would enable them to really thrive. State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick is right that the state needs to serve all its students, no matter where they fall on the continuum. It's a tough balancing act, particularly when money is scarce.

The program's costs are modest, less than $500,000, and its supporters are hoping the money will be restored during the next legislative session. Restoration would show that Maryland thinks it important that every student realize his or her potential.

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