Strategic Programs for Schools and Students
Olszewski-Kubilius and Thomson present an understandable argument and possible solutions for the discrepancy between minority, impoverished, impoverished minority students and gifted programs in their article "Gifted programming for poor or minority urban students: issue and lessons learned". I appreciated the article because it addressed an issue which, I think at least on a stereotypical level, is understandable. The solutions seemed proper, but also accommodating. Initially, I was frustrated by their proposed solutions, but then I realized those ideas and concepts were actually intrinsic to the factor I believed needed to be changed and held responsible, which was the cultures from which these students might be coming.
Racial and economic disparities have continuously played a major role in the academic gap between students. Since many of these disparities stem from a lack of proper support systems, I initially believed parents should take a more proactive role in expressing the importance of education and that should be the end of involvement as it pertained to molding cultures that were not my own (59). This was especially significant with respect to the "black" culture, where "acting White" is attributed to "school achievement, intelligence, and positive attitudes toward school; and attribute "acting Black" to low school achievement, low intelligence, and negative attitudes toward school" (60). I was outraged that schools were having to come up with appropriate programs for students who chose to perform poorly despite whatever gifted tendencies they might have and why they were assuming responsibilities where parents should be present. Especially as it would be required to advance themselves, why would students choose to act in negative manners? Wouldn't they want better for themselves and their children?
In reading the rest of the article, I understood that sometimes parents do the best they can but it still might not be enough. Changing a culture is not and cannot be the responsibility of one parent or one set of parents. It would make sense that establishments would have to step in to assist changing mindsets about education and, honestly, as long as it happens and every student starts performing to the best of their capabilities, that should be the important thing regardless of ethnicity or income bracket. I also thought about how much I hate to stand out in any group, social or professional. I could understand how, for a student especially, not fitting in could be a hardship, even if it meant the difference between getting into a gifted program or not. Upsetting the status quo can be intimidating and the programs, such as Project LIVE and Project Excite seem to assume a great deal of responsibility for shifting cultures and perceptions for the better, which is truly admirable.
When put into action, these programs were able to address the key concerns regarding between minority, impoverished, impoverished minority children and gifted programs. These included identifying potentially gifted children early and preparing them for gifted programs, having an environment outside of school, fostering closer relationships between the students and their parents to encourage educational growth and commitment and limiting student exposure to only other project participants (62-63). While it would be my hope that one day such structures would not be necessary, right now they appear to be not only necessary, but effective and beneficial. In the end, I think that is what needs to be focused upon in present times and hopefully additional steps can be taken in the future which would go even further to close the gap and necessitate less consideration for racial and economic disparities as hopefully culture at large would demand better.
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Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Thomson, D. L. Gifted programming for poor or minority urban students: issues and lessons learned. Gifted Student Today, 33(4), 58-64.
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