Letter from the President
Debbie Dailey, Ed.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning
University of Central Arkansas
To all members of CEC-TAG: Thank you for your continued support of twice-exceptional and diverse gifted children through your membership to TAG. We appreciate your support and your dedication to all students. I would also like to thank all of our board members and committee members for their exceptional work throughout the last two years. As my time as President of TAG draws to a close this coming December, I will not have had one fully in-person board meeting. However, it is through the dedication of the TAG Board and TAG Committees that we have continued the work as outlined by our strategic plan to increase our visibility, impact, and value within and external to CEC. I would also like to thank those board members who left at the beginning of this year, Debbie Troxclair, An Almquist, and Kim Hardin. Your contributions to TAG are greatly appreciated and valued.
Over the past year, my TAG colleagues and I have been interviewed about the need for gifted programs and how the programs appear elitist and racist. We explained how the removal of gifted programs actually harms our most vulnerable students, limiting their opportunities to develop their talents inside or outside of school. This is especially true for students from low-income families. However, despite years of effort, the demographics of gifted programs lack diversity, and students from historically marginalized groups are still highly underrepresented. To better serve all students, we must help our teachers recognize high potential characteristics in underrepresented students. Donna Ford (2013) stated that we must consider students' cultural influence when identifying high potential students and recognize how culture may change the manifestation of typical gifted characteristics. Additionally, there are many strategies that programs can use to increase the identification of students from diverse populations, such as providing frontloading (gateway or supplemental programs, student support networks) opportunities, universal screening, multiple pathways to identification, and ongoing identification with local norms. Educators must also consider the whole child and the intersectionality of giftedness with other aspects of their identity. Gifted characteristics may look different or be suppressed in twice-exceptional students and in students who may come from more than one marginalized group (e.g.., Black, Low SES, Female).
As educators of the gifted, we should not give up but be steadfast in improving our gifted programs. Improving our identification procedures is vital, but we should also ensure our programming is responsive to our particular students and facilitates the development of their talents. Removing gifted programs is not the solution but we must challenge ourselves and our programs to better identify and serve our underrepresented students.