On The “Gifted Gap” and Lost Geniuses

Read this report here, as it will tell the sad state of affairs for gifted children in high-poverty schools.

Here is the summary:

  • More than two-thirds of elementary and middle schools have gifted programs.

  • Overall, high-poverty schools are just as likely as low-poverty schools to have them.
  • Yet students in low-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to participate in such programs.
  • Even when black and Hispanic students have gifted programs in their elementary and middle schools, they participate at much lower rates than their peers.
  • In schools with gifted programs, only Maryland, Kentucky, and New Hampshire enroll more than 10 percent of the state’s black and Hispanic students in those programs; in twenty-two states it’s less than 5 percent.

And one of the states that does the worst at this is New York.

You should read the entire report, but the key, to me, is another line of theirs: ” This failure harms the economy, widens income gaps, arrests upward mobility, and exacerbates civic decay and political division.” It’s not just unfair and unkind. It is genuinely harming society. And I don’t think it’s malice, or educators deliberately trying to hold back their students. It’s a stereotype, where a child in a high-poverty school who performs well won’t have their ability trusted or believed in because, it’s assumed, it must be a fluke or a coincidence, whereas we’ve all known people from wealthy neighborhoods who weren’t exactly sharp.

The report recommends screening all children for possible exceptional talent, and not leaving it up to subjective and – apparently – deeply flawed and prejudicial judgment of even the most well-meaning educators. It’s sad that this is necessary, but I think it’s the only way to ensure more talented children aren’t being forgotten. How many have been assumed inferior over these many decades and what amazing things could they have accomplished if given the opportunity? Hopefully we can actually find out in the future.