Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students [8 VAC 20 ‑ 40]
Action Revision of regulations school divisions must meet in their gifted education programs, K - 12
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 9/26/2008
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9/26/08  3:50 pm
Commenter: Joseph Marler, Bristol Virginia Public Schools

Proposed Revision of Regulations Governing Gifted Education

Ladies and Gentlemen,

An image, once fixed, is difficult to change.

Stereotypes live and grow.  Here is one stereotypical coin with two faces:

Gifted kids will get the education they need on their own (one face).

We don't have any gifted kids in our school...not really (the other face).

Sometimes, those who make policy decisions, at any level, flip this chiral coin because it will always land on one face with which the general population can agree.  Gifted educators and gifted programs have not been able to re-strike this coin because so many people find it useful.  As a result, gifted educators and gifted programs must operate with the coin standing on its edge, knowing that in times of economic troubles or budget constraints, someone will knock it face-down and say, "Gifted kids will get what they need on their own" or perhaps, "We don't have any gifted kids in our school".  Then, they will proceed to cut funding for gifted education, drop gifted courses or gifted programs, or change the way gifted programs are structured and reported.

The work of such people, however well-meaning, ignores the giftedness of our students as well as the visceral efforts of their teachers who lead them to learning.  The work of so many people who claim to " what is best for the students", catapults students back into the caldera of conformity to churn in the chyme of drill and kill, test-score-driven schooling.  Such misunderstanding may, on occasion, celebrate products of giftedness, but it demeans or denies the process of giftedness.

The proposed revisions, as currently written, will do harm to gifted education, from the inside, that is, from the very people who are supposed to know about gifted education.  If approval for local gifted plans is left in the hands of local school boards, whether elected or appointed, the plans will be seen as local plans, and funding for local plans will be seen as a local issue.  Almost every school division in Virginia has felt the strain of programs mandated and enforced, yet under-funded or not funded at all.  This could strike a death knell for gifted education in Virginia.

Without the muscle of VDOE review and approval, without the brains and sensitivity of peer review, and without the connective tissue of gifted funding, we risk crippling gifted education.  With the proposed revisions, we risk making gifted education an invalid dependent upon a favorite stereotypically double-sided coin...with two losing faces.  Strike a new coin, but do not crush the creativity or deny the intellectual sustenance of gifted students. 

Do not enact the proposed Revision of regulations Governing Gifted Programs in Virginia.