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letters | Smart kids, tough choices

Bay State lags in commitment to gifted students

Gary Clement for The Boston Globe

Amy Crawford’s March 16 Ideas piece, “The poor neglected smart kid,” highlights an issue that has been virtually ignored in Massachusetts. Her article should be a wake-up call.

Meeting the needs of our advanced learners and gifted underachievers is more critical here than in other states. We have not had any funding for gifted and talented students since 2010.

Many other states consider these students as eligible for special education services and provide funding through their special education dollars. Other states allocate substantial funds for gifted and talented programs — as much as $148 million in Texas and $367 million in Georgia.

Massachusetts leaves gifted education up to the discretion of the district. One of the best research studies in this field was done in Framingham more than 30 years ago. This program has been emulated in thousands of school districts across the country but has been largely ignored in our own state and barely stays alive with district funds today.

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The Gifted and Talented Advisory Council was established to advise the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and its commissioner. However, the council have not been afforded the opportunity to present any findings or recommendations at a board meeting in the last five years.

Many parents who would advocate for these students have given up on the public schools and sent their children to private schools.

But don’t the less affluent advanced and gifted students in Massachusetts deserve better? Doesn’t our state also need their talents?

Carol Lach
Framingham

The writer is a retired educator who, as a staff member of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was a liaison to the Gifted and Talented Advisory Council.