By Michael Allison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that the Virginia Education Department has launched a study of minority students' low participation in gifted education programs statewide.
African Americans represent 26 percent of the state's 1.2 million students but 12 percent of those in gifted education programs. Hispanics are 9 percent of the state's schoolchildren, but 5 percent of gifted students.
"Virginia is proud of both the high standards of our educational system and the wealth of diversity in our communities. . . . It's critical we assess any disproportionate barriers . . . so we can ensure students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate," Kaine said in a release.
NAACP officials have urged Kaine in recent months to address racial and ethnic disparities in new regulations for gifted education that he is expected to sign in the next few weeks. Some said a study does not go far enough to address their concerns.
"When policymakers don't want to do something, they study something," said Arthur Almore, education chairman for the Chesterfield County branch of the NAACP. "I'm disappointed because the governor has the power to act here and bring about substantive change."