I have been a bit reluctant to talk about my daughter’s gifted status here. I am extremely proud of her but every time I talk about it I kind of feel weird. When I bring it up it always makes me feel like I am bragging and I am not that kind of person. I honestly try to be humble. I love my daughter and the person she is and is becoming is a source of constant amazement and awe for me. I just don’t feel the need to tell other people about it all the time. Plus, most people don’t understand the challenges of raising a gifted child. There are some unique issues with children like Emily but most people only seem to hear that she is “smart” and don’t understand how raising a gifted child can be difficult. I just don’t like the conversations so I typically avoid the subject altogether.
One thing that I do want to talk about and be involved in is the status of gifted education in Alabama. The State of Alabama has not funded gifted education for several years. Last year the legislature restored $1 million in funding statewide. That is about $19 per student per school year. Seem a pittance right? Even Mississippi spends 60 times that amount on gifted education. MISSISSIPPI!!! Is there any surprise intelligent people leave this state? Further information and statistics can be found in a recent article by John Archibald of AL.com
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I attended the State of the State address given by Governor Robert Bentley. In the address he briefly touched on education. Token raises for teachers and expanding a voluntary 4-K program. Good things sure, especially ANY raise for teachers (wish that was merit raises but that is another post) but nothing about funding programs to help our brightest kids reach their potential. You see, there is a myth about gifted kids. The thinking goes that they are smart and just will succeed by themselves. They don’t need help right, they are smart! That thinking is very wrong. Gifted children need their minds nurtured and challenged in ways that are different from the standard teaching methods. In fact, leaving these kids to succeed on their own is more likely to see them drop out and give up on a system that doesn’t care for them. It is really a sad thing to know that hundreds of the brightest kids our state can produce will languish in the public education system. Regular teachers don’t know what to do with them and there aren’t enough gifted teachers to go around. It is sad and infuriating and it is the single most important driver for me to want desperately to move out of Alabama.
I am going to start talking more about this issue around here. I know not a lot of people read this site. IF you do, however, and you find me talking about my daughter and her education somehow distasteful then I humbly ask that you move along. My daughter is smart and I am not going to apologize for that just like parents with kids who excel in athletics don’t apologize for their children. Kids like Emily are being done a disservice by the education system and we need to stand up for them just as often and as loudly as parents of children with disabilities rightly stand up for their children. Being gifted isn’t a ticket to success and we must stop assuming that they will be OK on their own. These are kids that can do great things. It is long past the time when we give them the tools to do so.