There are things that LAUSD does that drives the parents of gifted students absolutely crazy. Most parents have their first “shaking my head” moment when it comes to testing to identify gifted students. It’s virtually impossible to use outside testing. Which makes sense, since the person being paid has a reason to identify someone as gifted. And yet, testing within the district takes months. If a student is currently attending a private or charter school but wishes to be identified by LAUSD, it’s not likely to happen. So students looking to apply to magnets or SAS programs find themselves in a circular argument they can’t win. Common response to no outside testing is actually just the discussion that it’s not “fair” to students who can’t afford outside testing. Meanwhile unidentified gifted students can miss deadlines for magnets and other programs while they wait.After testing, for a student that just misses, there is no retesting. And in a district with virtually no extra money, it certainly makes sense to spend it identifying new potential students rather than retesting students who already had a chance.
Another issue that causes gifted parents to fume is funding. Programs once thrived with field trips and experiences for gifted students. This year, funding was a whopping $15 per identified student. In a smaller school, that ends up being enough for some gifted training for a teacher or two. And while sending teachers to conferences is a great, it hardly puts a dent in providing the best opportunities for gifted kids. Add in the two required meetings per year, and there is very little chance that the funding itself provides actual materials for the students.
And of course, the magnets are a dual-edged sword. Gifted magnets in LAUSD face long wait lists and yet the district refuses to make more of them. Schools create Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) programs. These, too, face larger wait lists than can be larger than the school population itself. And when parents seek the API test information on how these magnets are doing, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who can tease these numbers away from the school’s overall score.
Years ago, I had more than a few parents suggest I get an IEP for my gifted son. I scoffed at the idea, but now realize that IEPs protect the rights of the special needs student. It’s a legal contract between the school community and the family. Maybe it’s time parents of gifted students band together and learn their rights as the Special Education community has. When budgets intentionally target SAS funding and magnet coordinators knowing how integral they are to gifted students’ success, and budget makers target these programs knowing how active parents of gifted students are, it’s essentially forcing parents to act under duress.
LAUSD really misses the bigger picture here. If LAUSD wants to encourage middle and upper class families back to its fold, they have to offer programs that are accessible to all families that want to use them. Using the words they so like–that would be “fair” and “equitable.” I know I don’t mind them using my kids for better test scores, so long as my kids get a decent education out of it.
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