Guilford County PAGE Advocacy Statement
Our Guilford County PAGE Chapter, which supports our community’s brightest minds and advocates for gifted education, believes gifted children deserve their fair share of Guilford County, North Carolina (NC) educational funding and resources. With over 14,000 identified gifted children in the Guilford County public school system and academically gifted services available in every school in our district, these children represent almost 10% of the total student population. With today’s dynamic legislative environment in mind, it’s even more important for us to keep abreast of issues affecting gifted education in NC and locally, and to advance our students’ best interests.
Gifted Education in NC
Per Sneha Shah-Coltrane, Director, Gifted Education and Advanced Programs, NC is one of the few states that legislatively mandates “…public schools identify and serve academically or intellectually gifted (AIG) K – 12 students.” While there are many definitions of the academically and intellectually gifted, even among experts, in NC the definition is as follows:
State Definition of AIG Students, Article 9B (N.C.G.S. § 115C-150.5)
Academically or intellectually gifted (AIG) students perform or show the potential to perform at substantially high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experiences or environment. Academically or intellectually gifted students exhibit high performance capability in intellectual areas, specific academic fields, or in both the intellectual areas and specific academic fields. Academically or intellectually gifted students require differentiated educational services beyond those ordinarily provided by the regular educational program. Outstanding abilities are present in students from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.
Gifted Education in Guilford County
In NC, each Local Education Agency (LEA), such as a county school system, is given the latitude to determine how to identify and serve its own AIG population while adhering to state legislation and the NC AIG Program Standards, which provide a statewide framework and guide for LEAs as they develop, coordinate and implement their AIG programs.
In GuilfordCounty, as with other LEA’s across the state, our Academically Gifted Department (AG) has revised its 2013 – 2016 plan as required by the NC State Department of Public Instruction. As part of the plan’s creation, parents, teachers and administrators of gifted students, among others, participated in the review and revision process. We welcome you to read the new plan.
2013 Education Budget Cuts
In 2013, NC state-wide budget cuts have been making headlines for ending teacher tenure, reducing spending on teacher assistants, and enabling taxpayer money to be spent on private school tuition among other issues. While this has served as the catalyst for many important conversations, we would like to highlight another important change that potentially affects gifted education:
The heretofore protected and dedicated 4% of funding for academically gifted education has been reclassified as “Flexible Spending” by the NC Legislature via Senate Bill 402. This means LEAs, including Guilford County Schools, are allowed to transfer funding out of AIG/AG programs and use this funding for other educational purposes.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we believe parents, teachers, administrators, and others interested in gifted education should be educated and vigilant about changes to legislation and other matters that affect gifted education. Guilford County PAGE’s mission is to advocate today for a gifted tomorrow, so we can join together to give voice to our gifted students and the education they deserve.