Gifted Children & Poverty
When I was young, growing up in a suburb north of Chicago, I heard rumors of Cabrini Green
. This was one of the “projects” in Chicago, northwest of The Loop. It was to be feared. When I first learned to drive, Division Street (where Cabrini Green was located) was firmly imbedded on my mind as a place to avoid at all costs. When you’re on the subway, I was taught never
to get off at Division Street. Cabrini Green was filled with poor, angry, black people.
Now, many years later, I frequently go back to Chicago. To get from the area where I stay to one of the main highways, I have to drive down Division Street, past Cabrini Green. Much of the area is being gentrified. One by one, the projects are being torn down, replaced by expensive new row houses. A large grocery store has been built in the same strip mall as a Starbucks. But a number of the old Cabrini Green structures are still there, waiting their turn to be torn down. Meanwhile, they are still occupied by the same population that has been there for decades. Every time I drive by I am sickened. This is like a war zone in a third world country. It is inexcusable for our country to allow anyone to live in the squalor that that exists in these projects. The buildings, surrounded by tall chain-linked fences are literally falling apart. It is evident by the smoke stained concrete that numerous fires have taken place in the buildings. Children of all ages “hang out” on the broken sidewalks and grassless, dirt yards.
Each time I drive past this scene I wonder about the children inside. What kind of a backgrounds do they bring to their school experiences? What hopes do they have for learning? We are told that in every population there are similar percentages of gifted students. If this is true, how will they be found in this population and how will they be served? Will anyone care?