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Mississippi Association for Gifted Children

May 17, 2010

Dear MAGC Members and Friends,

As the 2009-2010 school year draws to a close, we have an answer as to how the current financial crisis will affect our gifted programs for next year.  On May 7, 2010, an e-mail from Todd Ivey, Director of the Office of Policy and School Financial Services at the Mississippi Department of Education, was sent to school districts in reference to the education budget for 2010-2011.  The following section referenced the funding for gifted education:

  • Gifted Education -  Funding for gifted programs is included in the MAEP
    allocation at a reduced level.  There will not be an allocation of gifted teacher units in school year 2010-2011. School districts are required to meet the statutory minimum for gifted programs with MAEP funds allocated.  Mississippi Code 37-23-171 through 37-23-181 requires each district to have an intellectually   gifted program in grades 2-6 for students with an intellectually gifted eligibility ruling. School districts may provide intellectually gifted programs in grades other than 2-6, or other types of gifted programs in any grade, but funding for those programs will be at the discretion of districts and based on available funds after the statutory minimum has been met.  Questions concerning gifted programs should be addressed to Trecina Green or Chauncey Spears at 601-359-2586.

A clarification of this information was sent to Gifted Contact Persons on May 13, 2010, from Chauncey Spears, Director of Advanced Learning and Gifted Programs.    Although MDE has left much to the discretion of individual school districts and given districts the flexibility to increase the number of students served by teachers, we did not lose our mandate.  In addition, districts are charged with maintaining the integrity of the gifted program, providing high quality programs that are in addition to and different from the general education program.  If you have specific questions, your contact person is encouraged to contact Mr. Spears at the number listed above.Nancy Loome, Executive Director of the Mississippi Parents’ Campaign, has addressed possible funding scenarios related to the changes on the Parents’ Campaign website.  You can access that information at www.msparentscampaign.org

So…what is our plan of action?

  1. First, locally, go to your district office to determine how this change in the management of funding will affect your programs.  It is likely your district is still trying to determine this.  As a result, your finance person may be the place to start as he or she is probably compiling the recommendations for the budget.  See if they will let you assist with this planning. hjkjhkjhkjhkhkhk

  2. If you are currently serving only mandated grade levels, try to get a commitment from your superintendent to maintain the integrity of your programs by keeping the increase in numbers to a minimum.  Also, you will want to begin building parental support to keep your numbers from escalating. jdlfjjl;jfdl;jgljfdglfdjgljfdlgjfdl;jgfdlgjfdl;jgljfdlgjlfdjglfdjflkjgklfdjlfj;lf

  3. If you are serving students in grade levels or programs beyond the mandated 2nd-6th, it is time to turn to your parent groups.  Parents of students who are benefiting currently or have benefited in the past from these wonderful programs should come to your assistance.  They have the power within your communities to make a difference.  As teachers of the gifted, you may not feel comfortable approaching your administration, but your parents have no hesitation to do so. hdkljfkljgfdjgjlfdjgljfdglfd;jgljfdglkfdj

  4. Additionally, make your program so beneficial and defensible that the school district can’t bear to give it up!  Celebrate the rigor of your expectations and make your program visible.  Get the support of your community members by including them in programs and outreach within the school.  Use the data compiled in your stakeholder evaluations to show the level of support you have from parents, students, teachers, and administrators.  Dr. Conrad Castle, who served as our Gifted Specialist at MDE from the early 1980 until 2007, was mindful of this coming storm when he put these evaluations in place with the standards.  You have years of solid data to show support, especially from parents.  Use it to maintain your programs and defend their value to the stakeholders you serve. hkjashkl

  5. At the State level, MAGC will continue to be a presence in requesting that programs receive full funding, but we must be mindful of the financial situation and recognize that all programs are taking a hit.  We will gain little support from superintendents, MDE, the legislature, or our communities by saying that we are more deserving than others in being exempt from any cuts.  MAGC will push for reinstatement of funding through teacher units so as to give the Department of Education the leverage needed to enforce compliance with the standards and regulations.  MAGC also will continue to offer support to teachers of the gifted and school districts, as requested, to answer questions and provide staff development on defensible programming and compliance with standards.  We have had many requests for this service from gifted coordinators this year.  As you know, we have tried to provide this for only the cost of travel and will continue to do so as long as feasibly possible.  We have met with teachers of the gifted, regular program teachers, and with some superintendents and principals, at their invitation, defending gifted education and offering suggestions for building support and rigor in programming.  We clarify information and answer questions on a daily basis. 

    On September 29-October 1, 2010, MAGC will provide the teachers of the gifted, psychometrists, counselors, coordinators, administrators, and parents an annual conference with exemplary keynote speakers, sessions of exceptional quality, and extensive exhibits of materials.  The cost of attendance at this conference will continue to be reasonable both for registration and housing.  In addition, we hope many meals will be included in the price as they were last year.  MAGC is mindful that many of you will be forced to pay your own way.  You can be assured that this conference will be worth your while. hsfdfkhdshdklfhskldhfkshdkfhsdkhfskdhfksdhfkshdhk

  6. Additional suggestions of ways to gain support for your programs; work with your parents, teachers, and administration; maintain contact with your legislators, and stay within the parameters of the regulations and standards will be posted on MAGC’s website.  We encourage you to share your ideas and success stories with us, as well.  MAGC values your expertise.

Remember, this financial crisis will end.  MAGC will continue to maintain a presence at the Capitol with the legislature, collaborate with MDE to maintain expectations for compliance with regulations and standards, and support efforts for full funding of gifted programs.   If we are steadfast in support of gifted education and maintain the connections with and support of our parent groups, we will continue to have a voice.  There is strength in our numbers.  We are sending gifted children out into the workforce every year that will be voting in elections…or running for office!  We need to maintain connections with them and with one another.  Tomorrow, go to your district office to assess the situation and determine what is being decided.  You won’t know if you can be a part of the process unless you ask.  Next, call together your teachers of the gifted to develop a plan of action that involves enlisting the support of your stakeholders.  Please know that MAGC continues to work for and support you in these uncertain times.  By continuing to provide exemplary programs for gifted children and working together to build support for gifted education, we will be in a position to face the challenges presented and provide the best programs possible for the gifted children of Mississippi. 

With resolve,

Sherry Willis, MAGC President

Carol Western Paola, Executive Director
Mississippi Association for Gifted Children

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Gifted Education & Legislators: Working Together for Mississippi's Future

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Gifted children and their families invaded the Capitol February 12 to give legislators a valentine thank you for providing gifted education opportunities. Government officials pictured (clockwise from top left) include Governor Barbour, Representative Capps, Representative Coleman, and Senator Pickering.                                         

 

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Gifted Education and the Law

The Mississippi Gifted Education Act requires public school districts to provide gifted education programs for intellectually gifted students in grades 2-6. These programs must be designed to meet the individual needs of gifted students and shall be in addition to and different from the regular program of instruction provided by the district. School districts may also provide programs for intellectually gifted students in grades 7-12, creatively and artistically gifted students in grades 2-12, and academically gifted students in grades 9-12.

Click on the links below to access the actual portions of state law addressing gifted education.

Sec 37-23-171 Short title

Sec 37-23-173 Legislative findings and declarations; purpose

Sec 37-23-175 Definitions

Sec 37-23-177 General powers and duties of state board of education

Sec 37-23-179 Promulgation of rules, regulations, guidelines; office for gifted education; implementation of programs of gifted education by local school districts; funding of programs

Sec 37-23-181 Relationship of Secs. 37-23-121 through 37-23-131


Click here for a Federal Legislative Update

 

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