I received this question from a parent--
As a result of the functional analysis the District conducted a couple of years ago, the budget for what we call "talented and gifted" education (more accurately called "meeting the curricular and other needs of our high performing students") was cut in half (to just over half a million dollars), while the multi-million dollar special education budget was slightly increased (to more than 51 million dollars). This was done despite the fact that each pot of money, according to District figures, serves approximately the same number of students -- roughly 5000 -- and despite the fact that the District has been in noncompliance with the State statutes for talented and gifted education ("Standard t") for years.
With additional budget cuts looming large, I have two related questions:
1) How strong a statement are you willing to make about your intentions to protect the District's "talented and gifted" budget from further cuts?
2) What are your thoughts about how to continue closing the achievement gap, but without taking further resources away from the District's high-performing students -- without precipitating what some call "bright flight" -- so that instead of simply insuring that "no child is left behind," we guarantee that "each and every child -- including those who are performing well above grade level -- moves ahead"?
Here's my answer-
Thank you for your question. I believe that there are many opportunities for talented and gifted students in our district. In addition, I believe there are many of these same opportunities in our community (i.e. children attending courses at U.W. and M.A.T.C.). However, I agree that there is more to do. Our gifted students help make our district nationally recognized. Iím committed to reviewing TAG as the budget is developed. I want to be equitable in our resources as it relates to our approach to students.
Special education is driven by law. Federal and state law mandates that the district provides specialized education for students with disabilities. It is no secret that the numbers of special education students has increased. However, the money to educate these students has not kept up with demand (No thanks to President Bush).
Your question is another reason why our school board needs to develop stronger partnerships with our local colleges, business community, and youth service agencies. So that no child is left behind.
Johnny Winston, Jr.