More than a Comment: Gifted Education and Equity

(What follows started out as a comment in response to the 12/27 entry and 1/3 comment on gifted education and equity, but has grown to entry status.)
Here is another relevant link — It’s to a page on the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) website. The page is entitled “Why We Should Advocate for Gifted and Talented Students.”
I think it’s important, when speaking about these issues, to know where the education money is going. It’s really quite sobering to learn the truth and should put anyone who feels guilty about advocating for the needs of really bright, academically advanced kids at ease. Remember, the bright kids who suffer the most as a result of the lack of dollars and appropriate curriculum — the ones whose potential remains untapped and undeveloped — are the ones whose parents cannot provide for them when the schools fail to. In addition, as learning continues to be watered down, more and more students will need additional challenge beyond what they receive in the regular classroom — if they are to thrive, that is, rather than just get by. Of course, much of what we are dealing with these days is less a matter of money than it is a matter of attitude.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, gifted programming is mandated in the state of Wisconsin — It’s just not funded (until this year, when fewer than $200,000 were included in the budget for a new gifted and talented consultant at DPI and some AP and middle school programming). Not only that, but for well over a decade there hasn’t been a g/t consultant on the staff of DPI (see last sentence — that will be changing in February). That means no one to oversee the delivery of services to the 51,000 gifted students in Wisconsin and no one to monitor districts’ compliance with the state statutes.
What about the MMSD? Well, the MMSD has been out of compliance with Wisconsin state statutes for gifted education since 1990. (Yes, 1990. That’s not a typo.) It’s “Talented and Gifted Program Plan” was written in 1991. I’m trying to get it posted on the District website.
Anyway, here is the excerpt from the NAGC website:

Gifted Education Programs Require Funding
Although gifted education programs and services yield increased learning gains for high-ability students, gifted education funding at the state and local levels ebbs and flows with the economy. 17 states allocated no state funds for gifted programs in 2002.
In 2005, .00029% of the federal K-12 education budget goes to gifted and talented students.
By comparison, 3% of the federal K-12 education budget goes to the Reading First Program, 2% to Drug Prevention, and 2% to English Language Acquisition. 57% covers the rest of the programs in the No Child Left Behind Act, and 31% is dedicated to children with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (Note: although some states classify gifted students without disabilities in the “special education” category, federal funds from IDEA does not support these programs.)
When looking at the federal K-12 budget for FY 2005 in smaller increments, the Javits program, the only federally funded gifted education initiative, receives 3 cents out of every $100 spent on education. In contrast, Reading First gets $3.50, English Language Acquisition gets $1.80, all other No Child Left Behind programs (in aggregate) receive $57.75, and IDEA programs receive $31.10.

There is also a powerful graphic depiction of the funding situation at the bottom of the page:
Again, you ask, what about the MMSD? Well, this year’s total MMSD budget is 321 million dollars, of which 600,000 are allocated for talented and gifted salaries and services. That’s 19 cents per 100 dollars of expenditure. Compare that figure to other expenditures by perusing the budget:
One more number: according to the functional analysis conducted for the District by Virchow Krause in 2002, an estimated 5000 MMSD students (of 25,000 total enrollment) receive and benefit from TAG services.