As the legislature convenes in special session and school districts across New Mexico build budgets for funding the 2017-2018 school year, the New Mexico Association for Gifted would like to highlight the need for a range of quality gifted education programming in our state.
A wide range of needs
New Mexico’s student population contains a wide range of gifted students – children of immigrants, research scientists (and immigrant research scientists!), artists, farmers; speakers of Spanish and English, Navajo and Tagalog; students whose lives outside of school are incredibly enriched in ways that support school learning, as well as those who care for siblings instead of doing homework, so that their parents can work multiple jobs.
At current funding levels, schools across New Mexico struggle to identify giftedness with equity and serving the wide range of needs. Yet, thanks to the promises made in Individual Education Plans, our gifted students may receive a range of services to meet their needs, including small group services that help students who will be the first generation in their family to attend college, whole-day programming for the highly gifted, acceleration in talent areas, and special thinking skills instruction.
Funding to remove some of the inequity
Our schools work hard to build meaningful, effective gifted education services because they train our future leaders. In our diverse state, gifted education removes some of the inequality in our communities, lifting high-potential children up, regardless of socioeconomic status. They also make school appropriate for students with a wider range of abilities – supporting students who learn fast to stay motivated and move toward expertise – because instead of entertaining and controlling themselves as others struggle, they learn something new every day.
In tight times, it is a tendency of education policy makers to sort “needs” from “wants,” and to place some educational services like gifted education, early intervention, summer programs, and special education for those with disabilities – services that only affect small groups – in the “want” group.
NMAG believes strongly that individualized gifted education is a NEED. It is a need in all of our communities. In all of our schools. As it educates our future leaders, experts, and creators, gifted education is a need for today, because it builds New Mexico’s tomorrow.