RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Last week Gov. Tim Kaine directed the Virginia Department of Education to "analyze disproportionately low representation of minority students in gifted education."
While the governor is clearly right to ask for a study, it is also important to ensure that the focus of the analysis is not biased by the very things that it is to protect: race, gender, or ethnicity.
While the unspoken issue at hand is probably related to the enrollments in Governor's Schools, the real issue may be inherent in what we call "gifted education" and how students are selected.
As a principal and superintendent, I always said that I could identify 90% of the gifted children by simply asking parents…but I could identify all of them by asking grandparents who believed in the law of "alternating generations"…"that boy of mine didn't get it but the smarts squarely landed on my grandchild."
In reality, if criteria for admissions are fair, then they should be evenly applied to all…and let the chips fall where they may! If admissions standards are inequitable, unfair, then they are probably unfair both to those who are admitted and those who are rejected.
The study also has a sticky issue as highlighted by the editorial page of the Times Dispatch. If the numbers of African-Americans and Hispanics are unfairly low, then the number of Asians must be unfairly high. While the filters used for selection, both human and statistical, may be biased, there is perhaps another issue. While ability should always be recognized, the gift of effort should never be ignored…hard work.
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