Question: What’s a gifted kid worth to the federal government?
Answer: Less than the cost of a Happy Meal.
We’re all aware of the enormous sums of money spent to meet the needs of kids with disabilities in our nation—about $13 billion federal dollars in 2013 alone. I don’t begrudge even a penny of this expenditure—all kids deserve to have an education that meets their individual learning needs—yet while the feds have both empathy and dollars to spread around for kids with disabilities, they harbor no such dedication to gifted kids. In fact, the entire current federal budget for America’s gifted kids is $5 million. Divide that number by the estimated number of gifted kids in America—2.5 million—and each of our nation’s gifted kids gets about $2 worth of support. Trying buying lunch with that, much less an education!
My new book is titled Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (And What We Can Do To Fight Back). Some have questioned my use of the word war as overly dramatic or exaggerated, yet what other word better describes such rampant neglect of a segment of our student population so lacking in educational efforts to move them forward? When people spout that “gifted kids are able to take care of themselves . . . let’s spend money on kids who really need the help,” they are declaring that gifted kids have no needs at all that can’t be addressed by what schools already offer to them. But after 37 years of working with gifted kids as a teacher, counselor, professor, and dad, I can assert one thing: the naysayers are wrong; gifted kids exist and their needs are as complex and important to address as are those of any other child with a special learning need. This war against gifted kids needs to end. Saving smart kids isn’t our choice, it’s our obligation.
James R. Delisle, Ph.D., has worked with gifted children and their caregivers for 37 years. He is the author of 19 books, and his latest, Dumbing Down America: The War on our Nation's Brightest Young Minds (and What We Can Do to Fight Back) is published by Prufrock Press (www.prufrock.com).
What do you think? Is there a war against gifted children? I know that I certainly agree with Dr. Delisle's points. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.