Gifted & talented programs cut at 9-R

Evidently, Durango School District 9-R administration believes the myth that gifted students don’t need help – they’ll do fine on their own. We wouldn’t expect a star athlete to train for her sport without the support of a coach, the school and the entire community, yet 9-R now expects gifted students to reach their potential with less-than-adequate support.

Parents need to know that the district has slashed staffing levels for gifted and talented throughout the district as part of the budget cuts that will be implemented in the fall of 2014. The number of school personnel whose main responsibility is working with gifted students has fallen to levels not seen in Durango since the early 1980s. This is a travesty, as research shows that gifted students often know more than half the grade-level curriculum for the school year before school even begins.

Classroom teachers need support in creating viable activities for their brightest students, especially as most of them have never received any training on how to meet gifted student needs. In one local elementary school that has cut gifted education in the last couple of years as a site-based decision, there’s at least one bright student who still doesn’t really know that school is a place for learning.

We don’t need to look far to find examples of gifted students who become bored with school and drop out, don’t ever achieve their potential or, worse, end up incarcerated. We all know of a gifted student who could benefit from the additional challenges and support now missing from the secretive 9-R budget cuts.

There has been no mention in the Herald about doing away with programs except for a few high school programs such as culinary arts. We should know how the administration plans to meet the diverse needs of gifted students next year. Because the state has increased school funding for next year, positions of trained educators of gifted and talented should be reinstated. We can’t abandon these children.

Nicki Massieon


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