From Education Week by Nora Fleming:
From court cases and legislative lobbying to their own fundraising campaigns, parents are putting pressure on states and school districts to boost services for gifted children, whose needs and abilities, they say, often aren’t met inside a traditional classroom.

While parents of the gifted have long faced challenges in proving the worth in providing “extras” for highly capable students, the fight has become even harder now in many districts where dollars are tight and other needs are deemed more pressing.

And, according to some advocates, the stakes can be even higher for low-income and minority parents who view gifted and talented programs as a means of providing their children with greater opportunity in cash-strapped school systems.

“In a low-resourced district, the concerns of parents of gifted students who can’t access gifted education services are often heightened,” said Natalie Jansorn, the director of those programs at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which provides scholarships and other funding to help gifted students. “They have no assurance their child will be challenged in the regular classroom that is focused on meeting minimum test requirements, and they don’t know where else to turn.”

Currently, there is no federal requirement that schools offer gifted services for students and no dollars allocated to states to provide them. The Jacob K. Javits federal grant program, which provided $7.4 million annually in grants for gifted education research and for efforts to serve under-represented populations, was cancelled in 2011.

Program support also varies greatly from state to state and district to district. According to research from the Washington-based National Association for Gifted Children, 14 of the 43 states it surveyed provided no funding for gifted education in 2012-13, and six states cut funding for gifted education between the 2009-10 and 2012-13 school years. While 32 states mandated some level of gifted services, only four fully funded the mandate, while eight were unfunded.

The situation gets even more complicated at the district level, said Nancy Green, the association’s executive director. Most localities decide independently how to determine giftedness and what services to provide for students deemed gifted. Parents often must press education leaders to test their children for giftedness, provide enrichment opportunities and pull-out programs for gifted students, and offer professional development for teachers in gifted education, she added.

“Parents too often find that many schools are not willing to make even the most basic changes in a child’s curriculum that could make a major difference for a gifted and talented student,” Ms. Green said. “Parents can [then] find themselves advocating at many levels—in their child’s school, at the district level, and sometimes even with state legislators, as they make the cases for services.”

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