July 10, 2020

Black, poor, and gifted? Hopefully you’re not in Wisconsin.


Anything a state does to open new pathways for black people to get out of education deserts and into the domain of educational opportunity raises my antennas.

So, today, Wisconsin has my attention.

Three legislators in America’s cheese capital are proposing a grant program that would offer high achieving students in low-income families access to public and private programs they currently can’t afford.

Most states have plans in the works to bolster low performing students, but high achievers – especially those who are poor and nonwhite – are a forgotten lot.

But, there is an increasing focus on them.

Last year the National Association of Gifted Children expressed concern about the scant number of low-income students of color reaching advanced levels of achievement.

We are particularly concerned with what’s happening at the high end. There we find not only far too few students reading (or doing math) at the top level, but also a reprehensible shortage of poor and minority youngsters within the ranks of those who do. A mere 2 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch reached the Advanced level in twelfth-grade reading last year, versus 8 percent who aren’t eligible (i.e., who are not so poor); in twelfth-grade math, it’s 1 percent versus 4 percent. Likewise, twelfth-grade black and Hispanic students reach NAEP’s highest reading ranks at rates of 1 and 2 percent, respectively (versus 9 percent of white kids and 10 percent of Asian kids). In twelfth-grade math, only 1 percent of Hispanic youngsters do so, and the percentage for black students rounds to zero (it’s 3 and 9 percent for white and Asian students respectively). The picture is much the same in the fourth and eighth grades.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Wisconsin proposal would support 2,000 students who score in top 5 percent of standardized tests or those identified as “gifted and talented” with publicly paid “tuition, textbooks, payments to a licensed or accredited tutor, payments to purchase a curriculum, tuition and fees for a private online learning program, fees for Advanced Placement exams, private music or art lessons, according to the bill’s analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.”

Here comes a shocker, not everyone is on board.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council have slammed the program because they say it doesn’t “meet the needs of all students,” and “elected officials should provide stable funding for public schools and include educators in developing solutions instead of fragmented approaches that siphon more from public schools to fund private [programs]”

AllLivesMatter (except black gifted lives, of course) and public education funding is not for individual children, but for the people who make a living on the backs of children.

There is such a dishonest foundation to that argument. No program address the “needs of all students,” and families are wise to seek programs that work for the specific needs of their children. And, yes, the government has a compelling reason to fund the development of each child to their potential.

Having traveled to Wisconsin last week and having talked to people on the ground, I can tell you there is zero shame in the white “progressives” there. They would allow black and brown kids to perish before shifting their ideology a single notch to the right. I’ll write more on that soon.

For now, know that Wisconsin is home to the worst white-black student achievement gap, worst science achievement gap, worst white-black graduation gap, and, the nations worst “well-being” gap between whites and blacks.

Too bad the state’s teachers’ union cares more for dollars than sense.

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