Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Children in foster care or gifted students?

Do you ever wonder about whom you should support:  the neediest children or the brightest? On the one hand, it is obvious that children lacking parents or coming from disadvantaged homes need assistance to go to school and possibly to have enough to eat. On the other hand, it is not fair to neglect very bright children who are bored when teachers aim for the lowest possible level and don't provide intellectual stimulation.

This set of choices came to mind through the contrasts in two Wall Street Journal "Donor of the Day" columns on succeeding days: "Guiding Gifted Students" by Melanie Grayce West was about Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber's contributions to founding a school for gifted children on Manhattan's Upper West Side and then using it as a model for the Speyer Institute to spread its ideas nationally (June 12, 2012). The next day Alexander Heffner wrote about Dr. Samantha Miller who is aiding children in foster care by supporting an "Afternoon Academy" with an academic support program combining rigorous academic stimulation with emotional counseling (June 13, 2012).

Both approaches are worthwhile and needed. Since we can't help everybody, however, we have to prioritize our causes. In this situation, which of these causes would you support and why? Or would you approach K-12 education from an entirely different angle?