Despite what the Dispatch says about some relenting on the cuts (“Columbus Schools cancel big cuts as $25 million error found”), there is only a partial relenting. Gifted and talented stands to be more than decimated! On top of past years’ attrition, this would leave the department with half the number of staff it had several years ago!
Please contact your C.C.S. Board members, by phone and/or by email. (Contact information is below.) It is probably best to contact each one individually, to reinforce your message and to ensure that it does not get lost in communication.
I believe that they plan to vote on these proposals at the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting, 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2013. You might also consider attending the Board Meeting.
(Most meetings are at 5:30 p.m., at the Columbus Education Center, 270 E. State Street. maps here)
THIS MEETING is at the earlier start time of 5:00 p.m.
Southwood Elementary School
1500 S. Fourth St.
Columbus, OH 43207
Remember that if you wish to make public comments, you must first sign up by calling the Office of Customer Relations at 365-8888 by [the scheduled meeting start time], on the day of the meeting.
Some Points you may want to communicate:
- There is no way that the remaining “Site Coordinators” (formerly known as Gifted Instruction Specialists) can fulfill all the coordination functions of the Regional Coordinators.
- Regional Coordinators are the ones who put together all the Academic Options at the elementary and middle school level. These options can be the salvation of some students who are difficult to reach in the regular classroom. They are inspiration for those who do well in the classrooms as well, providing in depth experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. The ECLIPSE coordinator provides the same support for teachers and students in the ECLIPSE program.
- Regional Coordinators also help provide support in identification, particularly at schools with fewer identified students.
- Regional Coordinators support Site Coordinators, as well as other “regular” classroom teachers with in-services and collegiality that foster better instruction all around.
- High School Coordinators are crucial in supporting the AP, IB, and other programs: encouraging students to participate, helping to create custom acceleration plans and WEPs, encouraging students to reach beyond to challenging summer and college programs. They also facilitate students’ in the difficult transition from Middle to High School.
- While mundane testing functions might not be the best use of the the current Testing Coordinators, who could better use their wide range of skills in other teaching and coordination roles; someone in gifted and talented needs to coordinate testing, perhaps with other functions such as Arts coordination. However this coordination is accomplished, it is important it be done by a professional who understands GT, and the necessity of testing alternatives to “find” children whose promise may be masked by social and environmental factors. (N.B. Since C.C.S. lost a full time Arts Coordinator, state-mandated identification has plummeted! You can’t tell me that our kids are suddenly less artistic.)
- When we lose these services, we risk encouraging families with gifted and talented “special needs” student to depart C.C.S. (At present, though we lose a number of such families (often when they cannot get a desired lottery program in one of the transitions; there are also families who move into Columbus, or seek to use open enrollment because Columbus has programs superior to many of the highly-touted suburbs.) When we lose these students, testing averages go down. Whatever you consider the problems with “high stakes” testing, it does have potential to adversely effect funding and reputation.
- Many people have put in endless hours on a Task Force for the Future of Gifted and Talented, acting in faith and on behalf of our children to seek ways to extend and improve gifted and talented services at all grade levels. Given all the intersecting and overlapping factors, this proved an arduous task. When the going got tough, Dr. Gene Harris personally rolled up her sleeves and got involved to encourage this group to move forward. We are now nearing a strong, positive result, with recommendations for our students’ future opportunities. It would be profligate to throw these efforts out, and go back over twenty years to a smaller, weaker program. Our kids and community would lose so much, right when they stand to gain. It would be defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. … and pretty darned discouraging!
I’m sure you can think of even more points. Please feel free to share them with others through the comment option below.
While the way that this story developed in the news seems to make our district’s administrators look incompetent, the fact is that they are dealing with a “chameleon” in the ever-changing matter of state funding. We really don’t know what to expect from the legislature. They were set up for trouble with these uncertainties.
After the latest spin of the Ohio education funding roulette wheel, the gaps seems less daunting. With the gap now seemingly much smaller, it would be prudent to put off program destroying cuts until some levy or additional funding could be arranged. (Who knows, perhaps the corporations inspired by the CEC could even contribute funds to educate the best and the brightest, from whom potential future employees and leaders come?)
Encourage our board to put children first! Tell them to boldly take a strong positive attitude toward future possibilities. Tell them to have faith, and choose to fight for our children by maintaining and extending these important programs, and the people who make them happen for our kids!
To Contact Columbus City Schools Board Members