Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Law Review

The Gifted Commitment: Gifted Education's Unrecognized Relevance in "Thorough and Efficient" Public Schools

Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Law Review

The Gifted Commitment: Gifted Education's Unrecognized Relevance in "Thorough and Efficient" Public Schools

Article excerpt

CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION  I.   INADEQUACIES OF GIFTED EDUCATION      A. Federal Gifted Education Initiatives      B. State Support of Gifted Education      C. Judicial Treatment of Gifted Education II.  THE UNREALIZED VALUE OF GIFTED EDUCATION III. GIFTED EDUCATION IN "THOROUGH AND EFFICIENT" EDUCATION      SYSTEMS      A. Advantages of State Constitutional Challenges      B. "Thorough and Efficient" Demands for Gifted Education      C. Other Education Clauses CONCLUSION 


In School Year (SY) 2008 09, gifted education funding represented less than 0.15% of state and federal funding. (1) This shortfall in funding is woeful. The deplorable funding reflects America's inattentiveness toward gifted education, an increasingly vital component of public education in the modern global economy. Our nation is home to millions of gifted students past, present, and future (2)--who will meaningfully impact our nation's economic competitiveness in these globalizing times only if provided the resources to realize their potential.

Part I of this Comment explores the status of American gifted education, touching on federal and state attempts to implement and fund gifted education. Part II explains the value of gifted education to American society and to the public education system. Part III proposes using states' education clauses to improve the gifted services provided in public schools.


Increased federal involvement has transformed American public education into a key federalism battleground. As the federal government expands into elementary and secondary education, states steadily lose their once-dominant presence in regulating education. (3) In the modern era of education legislation, federal and state governments have conflicted on controversial issues like standardized testing, teacher qualifications, and special education. Yet gifted education remains lost in the battle. Instead of a situation where the federal and state governments clamor to reform and regulate gifted education to their liking, the dual sovereigns largely avoid the issue of gifted education.

The lack of attention is not necessarily surprising. Gifted education appeals to a narrow political constituency and faces some populist resentment. A number of reasons, some obvious, explain the lack of popular support, which consequently hinders efforts to expand gifted education services. (4) Following Brown v. Board of Education, (5) some schools used rigid tracking systems to deprive black students of an equal education. (6) Others' views may be tainted by unpleasant personal experiences with public education. People who struggled in or loathed public schooling may begrudge those who excelled and subsequently refuse to support gifted students. Many people wrongly perceive gifted students as not requiring additional services to succeed] And more practically, differentiating the education of gifted students normally requires significant resources. For these reasons, most attempts to provide meaningful services suffer from a lack of popular support that produces disappointing returns.

Because substantial public support of gifted education rarely persists, the resulting legislative policies have been similarly lackluster. To better understand the current state of gifted education in America, the following sections outline the limited efforts by federal and state governments to regulate and fund gifted education. This review concludes by describing the judiciary's passive approach to gifted education issues.

A. Federal Gifted Education Initiatives

Since the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (8) (ESEA), Congress has increasingly inserted itself into education policy by extending conditional funding to states. For the most part, states have accepted the funds in exchange for adopting federally endorsed education policies. …

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