Our state and nation must stop neglecting our most talented students Op Ed piece published

cutCheck out this great opinion piece published by the Birmingham News and AL.com from Amy Waine, President of AAGC.   and Tracy Cross, President of NAGC.

 

By Amy Waine and Tracy L. Cross

Talent is a terrible thing to waste, but it is being squandered in schools throughout Alabama.

Students who excel in one or more subjects or who have the potential to excel have for too long been overlooked or unchallenged, primarily due to a lack of state funding.

Over the past couple of years, however, Alabama legislators have taken action to reverse this slight by allocating $1.1 million to support our estimated 58,000 gifted students, even managing a modest increase for Fiscal Year 2015.

While more significant funding would have been ideal, it is heartening to see state lawmakers in Montgomery begin a commitment to these students, one we hope provides a foundation for the future.

Nationally, the situation has been about as bleak, but with a similarly modest bright spot. The sole federal initiative for high-achieving students, the Jacob Javits Act, is an applied research program that develops practices to help teachers identify and serve high-ability students from under-represented populations.

Over the years, Javits research has yielded identification and instructional strategies for disadvantaged students and others who have been underrepresented in gifted and talented education programs, strategies that have also been applied to the general student population.  Many of these strategies could be helpful to school districts in Alabama that serve large numbers of low-income students.

Despite this record of success, in 2011, Congress eliminated funding for the Javits program, though it allocated $5 million earlier this year to partially revive it.

Similar to the situation in Alabama, the funding, while welcome, is woefully inadequate to address the needs of all high-ability students across the country. While the Alabama budget for next year is set, lawmakers in Washington could build upon these recent gains and move us toward a long-overdue national commitment to develop our talent.

A half-century ago, our nation recognized that a rigorous commitment to develop our talent was imperative. Concerned about the threat of Soviet dominance in space and technology, the United States created and supported a number of programs intended to innovate our way to success.

This effort paid off. But over time, we took our foot off the gas just as developing nations began investing in talent development. This has resulted in a perfect storm that has seen our own competitiveness plummet while other countries are on an upward march.

The ramifications of our decline can be seen in multiple indicators: declining test scores of our students, a declining percentage of our students scoring at the highest levels compared to those in other nations, a dearth of students interested in and able to study the demanding science and mathematical fields and shortages of qualified workers to hold needed and well-paying jobs.

An effective solution to our talent shortfall requires a renewed national commitment to supporting and developing high levels of talent. This commitment requires the involvement of the public and private sectors and the support of public officials from Washington to the local school district.

At the federal level, lawmakers must build upon the restoration of funding for the Javits program to fully fund it in Fiscal Year 2015. Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, plays a leading role in setting such priorities and should be urged to do so.

Beyond funding, as Congress works to modify the national K-12 education law, it must update reporting and accountability programs to include reporting on the progress of our top performers so the public can see what progress is being made, and must ensure teacher training dollars can be used to train educators to work with gifted learners.

Alabama legislators must build upon the funding of recent years and commit to a multi-year effort to more fully address the needs in the state. Doing so would help ensure that enough specially trained teachers and resources are available across Alabama to support students from all backgrounds and economic circumstances who have the potential to achieve at high levels.  The state must also continue supporting opportunities for excellence, including the residential public math and science high school, open to students across the state.

Leaders of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children have met with staff in the governor’s office and with many legislators and other stakeholders to address the needs of the state’s brightest students and their teachers. In these discussions, we have respectfully noted that neighboring states provide far more funding for their gifted programs, placing our students and our state at a disadvantage regionally.

Alabama officials must continue to realize that investing in gifted children is investing in Alabama’s economic future.

Reversing decades of neglect of our high-ability and high-potential students will not happen overnight. But it must begin to happen in a meaningful way if we are serious about regaining our competitive edge.

(Amy Waine is president of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children. Tracy L. Cross is president of the National Association for Gifted as well as the Jody & Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education in the School of Education and executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary.)

 

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West Madison Elementary Gifted Student Lobby

madisonpicBe sure to read this great article from AL.com.  The gifted students at West Madison Elementary School spend an hour each week in the school’s gifted program, but they don’t think that hour is enough. They have set out to do something about it.

Read the article here.  This is their resolution presented:

Madison City Resolution

These students know how advocate.  What can you do to help?

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AAGC Update

So many wonderful things have taken place this year for gifted education! Gifted Education Month was amazing that involved many events throughout Alabama emphasizing the importance of helping gifted students reach their fullest potential in gifted education! Several parent groups have held informative meeting across the state and invited senators and special guests to discuss current topics in gifted education! Then Alabama legislators raised the budget for the Gifted Student Program budget again! This marks a historical significance because gifted education has NEVER received funding for three years in a row in Alabama! I would like to say a special thanks to everyone who worked so hard towards making this event possible! We could not have made it happen without your help!

AAGC’s fall conference will be here before you know it! The conference will be held on September 17, 18, & 19 at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The theme of the conference will be “Gifted in Living Color”. Carolyn Coil and Brian Housand will be the dynamic keynote speakers for this conference! We changed the conference schedule to add an extra day of training opportunities for you! AAGC wanted to offer more quality sessions that encompass concept-based instruction and information for superintendents, administrators, teachers, gifted specialists, counselors, and parents. So please share the conference information at your school and district! I would like for them to gain a deeper understanding about gifted education in Alabama!

I would like to invite you to visit the AAGC website (www.alabamagifted.org) and click on the 2014 Conference Tab at the top. Under the tab, you will see detailed information concerning registration, hotel reservations, awards, grants, contests, and so much more! Please begin registering for the conference NOW! AAGC contests challenge students to think outside the box utilizing depth, complexity, and rigor as they express their selves! I encourage each of you to get involved with the AAGC grant funding opportunities! Throughout the years, AAGC has funded many excellent projects that promote creativity and concepts through project-based learning! So check out all the best that AAGC has to offer through contests, awards, and grants today because deadlines are posted!

Amy Waine, President

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Your Voice Is Needed Now!

faucetParents, grandparents, teachers, and friends of gifted education, your voice is needed during the next week to help legislators know that $1.1M for the Gifted Student Program budget needs to be raised to $2M!  I have enclosed the Senate Educational Trust Fund appropriations summary for 2015 – SB 184 that was released today. The $1.1M will afford each identified gifted child in Alabama about $3.00 per year!

This budget will go to the House of Representatives next week for further changes. I need you to call, text, or Tweet your legislators in the House of Representatives for the next two weeks!  If you need to locate your legislator’s number I have included a link that can help. A telephone call would make the biggest impact!  You may not reach her/him but you will reach their secretary and they will get your message.

What is at risk? Alabama public schools gifted education programs are at risk!  Please help us create a loud voice in Alabama that supports gifted education for generations to come!

Senate ETF budget-

www.lfo.state.al.us/pdfs/FY 2015 Spreadsheets/ETF/ETF – FY 2015 FT-E Committee Substitute.pdf 

Locate your House of Representative rep -

http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/house.html

Sincerely,

Amy Waine

AAGC President

bamswaine@aol.com

@sniarb on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contact Your Legislators Now Before Time Runs Out!

Parents, grandparents, and friends of gifted students there are only 16 days left in the legislative session to decide budgets! Please contact your local legislators to ask them to raise the Gifted Student Program’s budget to 3 million!

You can find your legislator’s name, email, and telephone number by visiting http://www.legislature.state.al.us   Gifted students have special needs and abilities! Your support for gifted education is greatly appreciated and valued. Contact them NOW before it is too late! 

Gifted matters in Alabama because investing in gifted education is investing in Alabama!

Amy Waine
AAGC President
bamswaine@aol.com
@sniarb on Twitter

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Legislation Update

NAAGC and SAGC flyer LB-2Senator Orr has introduced legislation that would provide for competitive two year start up grants to public schools to provide new educational programs for gifted students. The bill number is SB 118. Given strong funding, this could be so innovative, creative, and welcomed by gifted kids. (Guess what- he will be talking about this legislation on February 24!) (shared from NAAGC Facebook Page)

To see the proposed legislation, download from here.

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Gifted Advocacy Update

Venspired AAGC poster

 

 

 

 

In case you didn’t hear our AAGC president, Amy Waine, on the Matt Murphy Show, we were given permission to upload the podcast of her interview.  Click here to  the interview.

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Happy Gifted Education Month, 2014

2014 proclamationThe 2nd Annual Gifted Education Month (GEM) will occur during January to provide teachers, parents, administrators, and legislators an opportunity to highlight the importance of gifted education and program services in Alabama.  The theme for GEM this year is Gifted Matters in Alabama.  Gifted Education needs to matter in Alabama because gifted education provides a venue for students to reach their full potential by:

  • enhancing leadership opportunities
  • developing informed opinions
  • exposing students to various perspectives and points of view
  • establishing goals leading to career option
  • exploring post-secondary education opportunities
  • demonstrating 21st Century Skills: creativity, imagination, collaboration, cooperation, service to others, and problem-solving strategies
  • participating in field experiences and service learning
  • growing in social-emotional domains
  • developing autonomous lifelong learners and responsible citizenship

The Alabama Association for Gifted Children (AAGC) gave each fall conference attendee an advocacy toolkit/handbook.  I would like to encourage you to please contact your legislators, administrators, media, and newspapers in January to advocate for gifted education’s needs that include:

  • raising the Gifted Student Program budget from $1.05 million to 3 million in the upcoming State Legislative Budget. Next legislative session begins January 13th, 2014
  • heightening awareness and support for gifted program in Alabama
  • partnering and networking with stakeholders, businesses, and community leaders

When we advocate for gifted students and programs Alabama can advance in new technologies, increase leadership in business, community, schools, and state leadership, attract new businesses that require innovative individuals, increase the pool of inventors and entrepreneurs, and create productive citizens who will contribute to Alabama’s economy.

AAGC will highlight gifted education at the fall conference. Please send your GEM ideas  to me at bamswaine@aol.com. Please provide a short narrative detailing your event.

Let’s successfully demonstrate why gifted matters in Alabama!

Amy Waine

AAGC President

 

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December Newsletter!

Greetings!

 As the holiday season comes into full swing, please take a few minutes to read the attached AAGC Newsletter. This wonderful edition is filled with conference awards and highlights, Gifted Education Month(GEM) suggestions, legislative updates and so much more! Please send me your activities for Gifted Education Month at bamswaine@aol.com.  Your GEM activities maybe be included in a video at the AAGC Conference on September 17th-19th, 2014.
If you would like to place an article in the next newsletter about something positive or exciting that has happened in your school or area, please send your information to me at bamswaine@aol.com. The newsletter will be published in March, 2014.  All information needs to be sent by February 28th!
I hope you and your family have wonderful holidays and a Merry Christmas! The spirit of Christmas and the holidays create heart felt feelings as family and friends come together. I look forward to experiencing all the wonderful things that can happen for gifted students in 2014!
Best Wishes,
Amy Waine
AAGC President
@sniarb on Twitter
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Legislative Update

Greetings!

As the holiday season is almost here, I would like to ask each of you a question.  How would you like to receive more funding for students from the state legislators?  AAGC needs your help NOW to contact legislative members (House and Senate) to request that the Gifted Student Program budget be earmarked for 3 million dollars this time. Last year the state legislative budget began in the Senate. This year the state legislative budget will begin in the House.  I received information that the House has already begun constructing their budget.The legislative session will begin the week of January 13th, 2014.

I know with the holidays come many extra activities, but please take a few minutes to contact your legislators now. Your message can resonate to other legislative members that Alabama has people who care about gifted education and the funds they receive for gifted students. Please let them know the items that were purchased with the gifted monies, the purpose of purchasing the item, and invite them to your school for Gifted Education Month in January, 2014.  Your help can make a difference in the amount of funding we receive for the 2014-2015 school year!

Please don’t delay, make the call to your legislators today!

Respectfully,

Amy Waine, President 

bamswaine@aol.com
@sniarb on Twitter

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