The notion of equal education should encompass all students, but does it?
All too often, public schools set aside resources to provide for those students deemed to have special needs. This may include children with learning disabilities, reading problems and others. What about the gifted child?
Governments recognize and make laws to help those children with issues in order to support them in becoming well-functioning, productive members of society. Steps are taken to ensure that these children reach their full potential.
In many cases, gifted children are left out and therefore are not really benefiting from an equal education. Is their full potential being considered?
Over the years many governments have insisted public schools integrate all children into regular classrooms. Does any student really benefit from this?
The ones with difficulties can’t keep up and the average and gifted children are bored and frustrated.
They discourage schools from having children repeat grades. Instead, they lower the expectations at every grade level.
This trend of lowering expectations across the board benefits no one. It serves only to turn out many individuals who have difficulty reading, are poor spellers, have little knowledge of geography or history, are forced to use calculators to do simple math and can only tell time on a digital clock.
In order to compensate for this lowering of expectations, governments provide money to school boards for resource and extra help.
Is there a double standard?
This may benefit those students with difficulties but what about the gifted child? Are they getting an equal education?
Many in society seem to think that gifted children can go it alone and don’t need anything extra from the public school. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Imagine how bored and discouraged a gifted child must be in a regular classroom if extra effort isn't given.
If children with issues are given extra resources then why not gifted children? Why the double-standard?
With the entire curriculum aimed at guaranteeing every child reaches grade level expectations, there isn't much attention given to those children who master the work early on and are ready for more challenging work.
What are these students expected to do while the teacher spends the majority of her time helping the lower achieving students?
Clearly, gifted students are not getting an equal education in this situation.
Some studies have indicated that as many as 20% of high school drop outs are gifted. What does it say about a society that does not care enough about its brightest students? These gifted children are our future leaders, engineers, astronauts, and judges.
Special needs children have an identified learning disability and receive extra help via special classes and teachers.
Gifted students have an identified learning advantage and need to be challenged. Why don’t both groups of students receive the same support?
What can be done?
There must be a way to help those children with issues and special needs without ignoring our gifted children.
A good start would be to inform people about what it means to be gifted. Teachers need not be afraid of these gifted students.
Acceleration (grade skipping) needs to be understood better because the research and the perception of many teachers are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
The idea of equal education within the school is an issue that must be dealt with on every level starting with governments, school boards, principals and teachers.
Ultimately, it is up to the parent to advocate for their children and be the voice which spreads the word about these wonderful children that happen to be gifted.