A profound injustice occurs when our schools fail to meet the needs of our most advanced students and, in some cases, actively work against these learners and their parents, as Jay Mathews noted in his Aug. 1 column, “She is a gifted young student, so why did educators doubt her ability?”
Caitlyn Singam and her family had to overcome the ignorance and obstinacy of teachers and administrators in Montgomery County who doubted Caitlyn’s brilliance and erected roadblocks to her being appropriately served. Unfortunately, gifted learners suffer similar slights and all-out neglect, even in well-regarded districts such as Montgomery County.
Under last year’s rewrite of No Child Left Behind, federal law explicitly authorizes school districts to use Title I funds to identify and serve gifted students and Title II funds to train teachers in working with such students. The law also enhanced reporting on the progress of gifted students, and it supported research on identifying and serving gifted children from under-represented populations in gifted-education programs.
None of these provisions offers a panacea to decades of neglect and mistreatment, but they move us in the right direction. Nurturing the talents of high-potential students such as Caitlyn will be critical to the future vitality of our region, nation and world. It’s time our schools support these students rather than work against them.
Keri Guilbault, Washington
The writer is a board member of the National Association for Gifted Children.