Equity and Excellence

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Winter 2008 Equity and Excellence

Our focus this issue is on “Equity and Excellence” as they relate to underserved populations such as gifted minority and culturally different students and children of poverty. We also include a discussion of the “achievement gap.” I believe that important progress has been made
since we last focused on this population of gifted children in Winter of 2001. However, the issues of concern are still far from
being resolved.
In fact, the lead article by Paul Slocumb is entitled, “A New Lens to View an Old Problem.” Dr. Slocumb shared his knowledge and experience with gifted children of poverty with us in 2001; his current article title recognizes that the topic is an ongoing issue in our field, and we must continue our quest for improvement. Of special interest in this article is a chart that distinguishes attributes of mainstream gifted students from those exhibited by gifted children in poverty. Continuing the focus on gifted children in poverty, we present a reprint of Margie Kitano’s article from the proceedings of the 2006 National Leadership Conference on Low-Income promising Learners co-sponsored by the National Association for Gifted Children and the College of William and Mary. Entitled, “Poverty, Diversity, and Promise,” Dr. Kitano discusses some of the obstacles to identifying and serving gifted children in poverty and gives advice to those who work with culturally diverse, low-income students who are also gifted.

Jaime Castalleno writes about the “Critical Issues and Best Practices in Promoting Equity and Excellence for Gifted Hispanic/Latino Students.” He tells us that while the issue of serving Hispanic/Latino students continues to be a conundrum, his manuscript “will target critical issues and best practices” and focus on solutions rather than on the reasons why these students are underserved. This practical approach fits well with our goal of maintaining the Gifted Education Communicator as a practitioners’ journal.  Dr. Castalleno includes two informative charts,

• Psychological Characteristics of Gifted

Hispanic/Latino Students

• Coaching Tool for Classrooms Supporting Gifted Education.

The coaching tool is a product of “Project Bright Horizon,” a Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented education grant and “Project REGALOS,” a Title III gifted education grant program. It originated in Washington Elementary School District in Glendale, Arizona; Dr. Castalleno served as the lead consultant. The Coaching Tool was designed “to foster and support a culture of high expectations and program standards for diverse gifted education classrooms,” and to achieve specific outcomes for administrators, teachers, students, and families. Some may not consider adolescent males as a segment of the population fitting the topic of this issue. Tom Hébert and Jeffrey Danielian maintain that “gifted boys are faced with typical challenges along with additional issues associated with high intelligence.” We have previously focused on gifted girls who as a group face specific challenges—both because they are gifted and because they are female. Hébert and Danielian contend that gifted males can especially benefit from developing male friendships while spending time together in an outdoor adventure setting. In their article, “Educators Supporting Gifted Males Through Outdoor Adventure,” they provide a detailed guideline for carrying out such an adventure event with gifted adolescent boys. Specific activities and extensive resources are provided for those wishing to carryout a similar event.

Our final feature explores the issue of the “achievement gap” existing between minority and majority learners in our schools. Sandra Kaplan’s provocative title, “In Support of the Achievement Gap” leads us to the further question: When is an achievement gap positive as opposed to being negative?” Dr. Kaplan points out that recipients of the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, as well as the Heisman trophy and Olympic medal winners, are recognized for achievements that go far beyond the traditional or average. This achievement gap is considered positive. On the other hand, Kaplan acknowledges that an achievement gap within the gifted population is a “legitimate” concern. She presents recommendations to address the issues involved and also suggests that gifted education can be a part of the solution of the negative achievement gap. The spillover effect resulting from implementation of long-used practices of gifted education, such as differentiation of curriculum, can benefit the entire population of learners—not just the gifted within it.  We can feel satisfaction in the measure of progress made to achieve equity and excellence for underserved gifted learners, but we must not be complacent as the task is far from being completed. Our authors provide important information for us to continue the quest. In this issue we introduce a new department, “The Amazing Brain,” authored by Barbara Clark. Her column will include a series of issues related to the development of intelligence, and how interaction with the environment can impact this development.
Dr. Clark has long been interested in brain research and its application to educational practices as was demonstrated in our Spring 2008 issue “The Brain and Gifted Learners,” in which she served as guest editor. This column will provide additional information regarding this topic.

In the Spring 2009 issue we will look at promoting leadership in gifted learners and the ethics that go with it. In the meantime, we wish you success in your endeavors for gifted children and commend you for the positive role you play in parenting and educating gifted learners.

—Margaret Gosfield, Acquisitions Editor