I commend the excellent opinion article by Adeyela Bennett on gifted programs and her efforts, not just on behalf of her twins, but for all of Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ children.
A recent study published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory by researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Indiana reported that black students were more likely to be referred to gifted programs when they had a black teacher.
I am not naïve enough to say that there is never direct racism involved, but in most cases it is likely unconscious bias and unfamiliarity.
The take-home messages is that looking only at system-wide statistics and regulations, where Miami-Dade does better than many others, is not sufficient. Only by examining individual schools and schools’ classrooms can this issue be really addressed.
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In this light it is both tragic and sad that Bennett’s request for information was not facilitated. Second, I fear that much of the efforts at gifted programs are more allocation of scarce resources than truly educationally based. More than 30 years ago, moving to Miami from a nonaffluent area in Massachusetts, I observed that the methods and opportunities provided to all there, at least in some cases, were available only in gifted classes in Miami.
All of our children deserve our best not just those from families more capable of making the system work. Imagine the potential that is lost when students are not given these opportunities.
The NAACP nationally has a long history of looking at programs such as gifted, that all too often arose after desegregation and helped accomplish segregation within schools.
The opportunities for black children to participate fairly in Miami-Dade County has been a continuing concern of our local NAACP.
Bradford E. Brown,
Miami-Dade NAACP, Miami