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Joel McIntosh

Joel McIntosh
I'm the publisher at Prufrock Press. I've been involved with education for more than 20 years and hold a masters degree in gifted education. I've been a classroom teacher and a parent (still am that). In addition to this blog, you can follow me on Twitter. Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any questions about this blog or Prufrock Press.

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Gifted Children & Poverty

Friday, July 29, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
 
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?
 
Although there are some success stories, they are far and few between. When help does arrive for these kids it is often through local religious groups and other volunteer programs rather than through the school system. A number of experts have tried to tackle this issue, such as Paul D. Slocumb and Ruby K. Payne in their book Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty and Donna Ford through her many writings and presentations, but much progress needs to be made. The one federal program that offered help in the area—Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act—again faces the chopping block, with President Bush Bush's budget request to the Congress including $0 in Fiscal Year 2006. How does No Child Left Behind impact this group of underserved children?
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