Parenting Gifted Children: Speaking Out for Gifted Children in Illinois

Here is my testimony from the ISBE budget hearing.

Like you, I want to see every student in Illinois demonstrate academic achievement. As the mother of two academically advanced elementary school students, I’m unclear on how this is done. Tests like the ISATs mean little for children like mine who exceed government dictated expectations for a given grade level long before they enter it.

I want my children to work hard and learn new things. I want them to demonstrate significant and measurable achievement each school year. I want the State of Illinois to recognize and serve gifted students as a special needs population. High ability/academically talented/gifted- choose your term- these children have social, emotional and educational needs that differ from those of most students.

Not only that, within the gifted population, there is a continuum of abilities, such that a highly or profoundly gifted student is as many standard deviations away from a moderately gifted student, as a moderately gifted student is from an average one. But that’s an aside, expecting public schools to accommodate the type of students who, by very definition, are quite rare is a pipe dream. Unless that student has learning or physical differences that place them on the low end of the bell curve, of course.*

There’s a perception that gifted children have all the advantages, but many parents I know struggle with the intensities and challenges such a child often brings. .... (At a recent) PTO meeting, I held back an ironic chuckle when a teacher proclaimed, "If our students aren't challenged, then they’re cheated."

Let me be clear, high ability children throughout the state of Illinois are being cheated because of a lack of funding, lack of teacher training, and lack of appropriate coursework.

It would be nice if our state and nation worked harder to recognize and serve academically advanced students like my sons. I’m not promising one of my boys will find the cure for cancer or be the next Einstein (have you heard how he treated his first wife?), I just want what the state wants- demonstrated academic achievement and preparation for success after high school. If my boys and other children like them don’t learn to work hard now, if they don’t experience the frustration of facing a challenge and the joy of overcoming it during their most formative years, what will happen to them beyond high school?

Please stop leaving gifted children behind.

*This came off as kind of snarky and I'm torn that I included it. I left it in because, tone aside, that does seem to be my experience.
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