Gifted education in sights
Last time Florida lawmakers tried to change funding for gifted education, the advocates came out of the woodwork to beat the proposed bill into submission. This time around, the folks who want to alter the system are reaching out to the parent groups early.
Rep. John Legg (left), vice chairman of the House K-12 Education Committee, is working with Senate Education Appropriations chairman Steve Wise to craft a bill that would hold school districts to a higher standard when it comes to gifted programs. Their proposal, still in drafting, would force districts to keep track of how they are spending money for gifted education. Right now, it's just a chunk of special education funding, and most districts can't (won't?) say how the cash gets divided, or which academic programs get the money.
Too often, Legg said, parents will say their children are classified as "gifted," but the district gives them maybe an hour a week of pull-out attention, yet the districts get full funding for gifted education.
"I'm saying, they better get the programs you're saying they get, because we're paying for them," Legg told the Gradebook.
The bill also would require screening of all students to determine whether they are gifted, rather than wait for a parent or teacher to ask for the testing.
Already, parent groups have seen a version and made recommendations about training for teachers of gifted kids, sending the bill writers back to their computers. Legg said he hopes to file a working draft in November, and then hold lots of public hearings, to ensure what ultimately emerges is something most people who care can live with. But one thing is clear, he said: "The national trend is that we've dropped the ball when it comes to our gifted kids."
And the time, it seems, has come to change that.