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Deukmejian Cuts for the Gifted

February 04, 1987

In his 1986-87 budget Gov. George Deukmejian proposes that gifted/talented education programs be subject to elimination after a two-year phase-out. I personally feel that this would be tragically shortsighted.

A gifted child can easily falter in a regular classroom, where he is often forced to perform repetitive and dull "busywork" while his classmates catch up. He may become a social wallflower because his ideas and suggestions are rejected as too complicated and far-out by his peers. Or he may be resented because he always gets the best grades.

In an attempt to adjust and become "one of the gang," he may disdain schoolwork or pretend that he doesn't know the answer. Or he may just become very bored and withdraw into himself.

By contrast, my 8-year-old son attends a gifted magnet school and when I work as a volunteer in the classroom I see eager young faces glowing with the anticipation of another day of learning and growth. They are very turned-on and responsive to their teacher and to each other. I have no doubt that they will reach their fullest potential under their talented teacher's guidance.

We Californians are fortunate to have the resources to meet the special educational needs of all our children whether they are learning disabled, exceptional or gifted. These special programs are an investment not only in our children's futures, but in our own as well. We should want our children to have the very best developmental opportunities available so that we may rely on them to provide for us in our waning years, to be self-sufficient and to guide the world of our future on a safe, sane and peaceful path. We will need our gifted, in particular, as statesmen, diplomats, inventors, artists, businessmen, designers and innovators.

Many societies that we like to think of as less sophisticated and modern than ours, such as the Soviets, do a better job of utilizing the potential of their gifted and talented students. Investing in a gifted or talented child's education insures that he will be able to reach his full intellectual/artistic potential for the benefit of all citizens.

We need to reap the promises of these young minds to help us solve the complex problems facing our society. We can no longer assume that we will be No. 1 in the world economically, militarily or politically. If we are to compete successfully in the world market, maintain peace through diplomacy and wisdom, retain our lead in technical and scientific fields (including military defense and space exploration), we cannot afford to skimp on education.

All of our children, whatever their IQ or special needs may be, deserve the best education that we can give them. They are our candle in the night, our very future.

Gov. Deukmejian is a very shortsighted man indeed.


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