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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

A weekend interview with ...



Legg State Rep. John Legg. Legg, a Republican, runs a charter school in New Port Richey, is vice chairman of the House Education Innovation and Career Preparation Committee, and sits on the House Schools and Learning Council. Lately, he's been visiting with educators, administrators and news people to talk about what education initiatives he expects to come out of the upcoming legislative session. The Gradebook has highlighted a few in the past couple of days.

One issue Legg has passion about is gifted education, and how the state can better serve its most talented children. Here's Legg in his own words (edited slightly for length):

"This is one of the negative effects of NCLB and certain testing. You're in a classroom of 25 kids, or 20 kids, you're going to have four ESE kids regardless and you're going to have some slow learners, average learners and high achievers. The way the system is set up, where is all your attention? You're not focused on Susie, who is not giving you any problems, a high achiever who doesn't need any assistance. You're focused on the kids that are at the bottom to make sure they're at grade level.

These high achievers, they are bored out of their minds. We have a very weak way in this state of allowing these kids to succeed and promoting success in them. In my opinion we're stifling them. We're not allowing them to soar. ...

We're looking at New York City's model. What New York is doing, which I think is an expensive model, and so I don't think we can go that way, that's why we're asking (Duke University's Talent Identification Program) to take a look at how we should do this. They screen every second grader for giftedness. You don't wait for a parent to ask, you don't wait for a teacher to suggest.

I come from a very very poor family. You have a poor family and they have a smart child. Most of the time those families, and I'm speaking of my family, so I don't want to be derogatory toward poor families, but they don't know how to work the system. A wealthier family says, I know my child is gifted, I know there's more services available, I want them to excel, here's how I want them to excel. ...

What we're looking at is some sort of universal screening for high achieving. Not just on IQ, but creativity. There are different gadgets, IQ tests, out there that test leadership ability, creativity, artistic ability, mathematic skills, the whole gamut, not just the typical little-g gifted in the educational circles of intelligence. ...

We're looking at TIPS to come up with a model of what are the best practices for gifted and allow the districts, give them some direction. Say hey, here's what has worked in Florida, throughout the country. ... It's the state's responsibility. The voters are crying right now, ... saying this gifted stuff, we need to address it."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:14am]


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