The other end of the spectrum: “Special” education for gifted kids

In our local paper a couple of weeks ago was the article Parents, students fear for future of gifted programs. In a nutshell, gifted students and their parents are asking for exactly what many parents of autistic kids are trying to avoid- segregation from the regular classroom:

The resolution notes that gifted students have educational and developmental needs that differ from school populations as a whole, and the board believes gifted students “require programs or services beyond the level ordinarily provided through the regular school program.”

“I moved to Rockwood due to the gifted programs, which I hope we can keep at their current level,” parent Karen Smith said. “The way gifted children learn is so different that they need stimulation and different types of (teaching).”

Parent Julie Loos said the gifted program “prepares my children for real-world solutions.”

Replace “gifted” with “autistic” and I think the statements are just as valid. Why, then, do so many parents of autistic kids want to simply put their kids in the mix with the ‘normal,’ instead of demanding the “stimulation and different types of teaching” that their learning style and abilities demand?

At the same time, programs for the gifted are facing many of the same challenges as ‘regular’ special education:

[They] favor guidelines including a means to monitor qualifications of teachers hired by districts to teach in gifted programs; continuation of certification requirements for gifted teachers; maintaining state guidelines for identifying gifted students; a means to monitor and report the number of students identified by districts as gifted; requiring districts to annually report to the state concerning whether they provide gifted programming and its nature; providing information on gifted programs on districts’ annual report cards; and enhancing the Missouri School Improvement Program standard for gifted programs, so they become more important to the overall accreditation process.

Let the battle for the buck$ begin.

Update (21 Feb 08): Marla has posted a good discussion of this topic from a more personal perspective.
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