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Why are minorities under-represented in the gifted program? - Page 2

post #21 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

I don't think it is just socio-economic status. As the mother of a gifted, quirky, brown four year old, we have already seen first hand the ways that race play into how his behavior is interpreted and how teachers and other adults respond to him.

 

My partner and I are both college-educated professionals (both of us are ABD) who have both spent significant amounts of time in classrooms as teachers, administrators, graduate students and advocates. My partner is a Cultural Competency consultant who works with schools and teachers to make sure they adequately meet the needs of minorities. I am white, my partner is black, our son is mixed black and white. Our son's verbal IQ came back at the 99.9th percentile recently, and his full scale IQ came back at 99th percentile.

 

He had significant problems in his previous pre-school and when I was speaking to the director of another school, I tried to explain to her that the previous school did not have an adequate discipline policy and that the teachers were never clear about expectations with the students. The director looked at me and said, "Oh, so maybe the issue is like in Delpit's Other People's Children?"--which, if you haven't read it is about the difference in communication styles between dominant middle-class culture and underrepresented minorities.

 

Except for the fact that my son is half-black, he is firmly a part of the dominant middle class culture--after all, he is being raised by a white mother who communicates in the same style as the white women who were teaching him and a black mother who was a highly successful teacher of white college students at one point in her career, and I was rendered absolutely speechless by this director's lack of understanding of this.

 

Racism. Pure and simple. And, he wasn't offered a spot in her program because "we don't think we can handle his needs" (which, incidentally, were never identified by any of the specialists we dragged him to at the insistence of the first school).

 

The teachers did acknowledge that he was "bright" but never saw him as more than a trouble-maker. So, yeah, we anticipate needing to fight next year to get him identified for the gifted program, and then needing to fight when he hits middle school to keep him enrolled in the program.

 

 

I was actually going to come and say that you should all read Delpit's book--which doesn't just address race.  It addresses culture differences, too.  But yes, spedteacher30's case is definitely racism.  We've had the EXACT same experience but it was "classism" I guess.  We lived in a town that was beneath our means and our son attended a more "affluent" private preschool and was misinterpreted based on their idea of the demographic of my former town vs. reality.  I was stunned with the whole experience.

 

Delpit goes into misinterpreting countless aspects of a child's being on behalf of a teacher or administrator.  It helped me as a teacher and a foster parent.  But it also cemented my desire to homeschool.  And it doesn't address people who are just outright racist and making assumptions about what a child's trajectory or actions are based on what they expect them to be because of their class/race.  In other words: there are the things that are truly misinterpreted by a teacher, and then there are the things that a teacher "creates" into reality based on what they believe that child is "about" because of the perceived background.  A teacher can truly misinterpret a child's manner of speaking as rude when it isn't intended to be simply because that teacher is unfamiliar with the manner of speaking--even if that teacher would never have expected that from the child.  But then there are the teachers that will assume that a child WOULD speak rude because of what they believe the child's background is (or what they expect based on the child's race/ethnicity) and spin that child's actual words into a negative construct.

 

None of it's good.  And all of it plays into identifying giftedness, special needs, math aptitude--you name it.  

 

Minorities ARE underrepresented in gifted programs.  They are, however, overrepresented in special ed programs.  And the majority of teachers are not minorities.   Coincidence?  Not really: they are able to appropriately interpret the actions and behaviors of children more similar to themselves; and have higher expectations of children like themselves (consciously or subconsciously).  There are plenty of studies showing that teacher expectations (regardless of where they come from, good or bad) play into student performance and trajectory.  Sad, but true.

 


 

post #22 of 53

I don't know. Schools here are taught in english and spanish so I don't suspect there would be any "gifted" kids as they are both learning other languages. With half the day in english and half the day in spanish I don't see how they could specialize in architect or spelling. Here it is 75% hispanic (public school) but I don't know the statistics of gifted classes.

post #23 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post

 

 

There are a lot of frustrated bright and gifted English Language Learners out there. It's heartbreaking to see a low language-level student SOOOOO excited about a concept or idea in their brain, practically bursting with a desire to share his/her thoughts, and then just... give up and say "I don't know" because the words just aren't there. Or an intermediate language-level student stuck reading materials that do not challenge them intellectually because finding high-challenge, low-language materials is really really difficult, and advanced texts aren't available in all languages. Besides, there aren't teachers who speak every language to help guide students through the advanced material anyway, and even fewer teachers who speak other languages *AND* know how to work with gifted students.

 

If anyone knows of any good resources for ESL-Gifted education... shoot 'em my way. I'm trying to put some stuff together for our district and not finding a lot of practical resources.

 

 

Well, this isn't exactly the same thing, but there are parallels: if you haven't already, you might want to take a look at foreign language pedagogy at, say, university level. I teach undergraduate foreign language courses and the issues do sound similar. I have very intelligent  adults capable of analyzing and synthesizing information at a fairly advanced level, and as a result get extremely frustrated (and some quite demoralized) because they are unable to express their opinions during class discussions. Like your students, they simply don't have the words to express complex ideas. We generally don't allow English to be spoken during the class, so if students can't say what they want in the target language, unfortunately some just give up: one of the skills we focus on, therefore, is developing communication strategies for students in this situation. And also, the content of reading materials is usually fairly silly and far below their level of maturity. Some textbooks are better than others for dealing with this. Some, for example, avoid literary texts entirely and use things like media: advertisements, advice columns, internet forums, etc: places where language is usually relatively simple, but content can lead to an analysis (even with less sophisticated vocabularly and knowledge of complex grammatical structures). 

 

 

Anyway, just a thought...
 

post #24 of 53

I found this book and this article and this conference proceeding and there's this (older, but might be useful) and this

 

Lots of it is dated, but might still be useful.

 

I love the ERIC database for all sorts of things--hope you can find what you are looking for, blizzard_babe!

post #25 of 53


I've always thought the exact same thing. If there is a genetic component to giftedness then many immigrant families have a pretty darn high probability of having gifted children for just the reasons you listed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

But I do have this theory that the children of immigrants may be genetically predisposed to being brighter, as I assume it takes a fair amount of intelligence to navigate the process of immigrating, as well as some major guts.

post #26 of 53

I think that idea ventures into the realm of blaming underrepresented minorities for their current situation. (i.e. "the reason that immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants are smarter" instead of "the reason immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants have not experienced the same psychic racism that exists for US-born black people due to generations of oppression.")

post #27 of 53


From our experience, those that make that move to immigrate are typically pretty bright but more than anything, they are driven to succeed. Like I said, my mother's parents were immigrants and man, education was EVERYTHING. They managed to raise 8 children, all top scholars and get 6 through college. It's pretty amazing that 2 migrant farm workers could make that happen. Of course, there are always exceptions but I really don't think the majority of who we get are lazy or non-thinkers as some would say.

 

There was on little boy that really stuck out to me as likely gifted. Every single day the little boy would bring me these alphabet baby board books. He'd sit next to me and run through every page trying to label everything in English. He'd also used English picture books as dictionaries. If he wanted to say something but didn't have the word in mind... he'd hunt through the library and come back with a picture of the word he wanted to know. Honestly, I've never seen a child so driven to learn. I know the parents had something to do with it. They couldn't afford books (mom actually cried when I gave her a stack of books my children had outgrown.) However, they taught him an enormous amount of songs and rhymes in his native tounge.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post


I've always thought the exact same thing. If there is a genetic component to giftedness then many immigrant families have a pretty darn high probability of having gifted children for just the reasons you listed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

But I do have this theory that the children of immigrants may be genetically predisposed to being brighter, as I assume it takes a fair amount of intelligence to navigate the process of immigrating, as well as some major guts.

post #28 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post

 

There are a lot of frustrated bright and gifted English Language Learners out there. It's heartbreaking to see a low language-level student SOOOOO excited about a concept or idea in their brain, practically bursting with a desire to share his/her thoughts, and then just... give up and say "I don't know" because the words just aren't there. Or an intermediate language-level student stuck reading materials that do not challenge them intellectually because finding high-challenge, low-language materials is really really difficult, and advanced texts aren't available in all languages. Besides, there aren't teachers who speak every language to help guide students through the advanced material anyway, and even fewer teachers who speak other languages *AND* know how to work with gifted students.

 

 


At the risk of taking this thread off-topic, this is exactly the concern about using foreign language immersion programs as a substitute for true gifted programming. I've heard lots of parents say that their (English-speaking) child is in a language (Mandarin, French etc.) immersion program and it's just like a gifted class. It isn't. Not by a long shot.

 

There are lots of really good reasons to choose foreign language immersion schooling, but gifted learning isn't one of them.

 


Edited by ollyoxenfree - 12/17/10 at 9:51am
post #29 of 53

They are not here. In fact, despite being a largely white community, we have tons and tons of people of Asian and Indian (which is also Asian I guess) decent. Most of them are not in homes that speak English as a primary language. 

post #30 of 53

 

The emphasis on school-wide results of standardized tests may have some influence in districts with gifted magnet programs, where students leave their neighbourhood school to attend a full-time gifted program elsewhere. It probably doesn't impact gifted pull-out programs (the OP's situation). 

 

The neighbourhood school has a selfish interest in keeping high achieving students who perform well on standardized tests. They may be less likely to nominate students for testing and try to discourage parents from sending their children out of the neighbourhood. I have known of a few administrators who actively discouraged parents from transferring their children to gifted programs. Maybe they honestly think that the gifted program won't be a good fit, but I've wondered whether test scores aren't on their minds too. 

post #31 of 53


Thanks for the resources, spedteacher30 orngbiggrin.gif. I'll see what I can get my paws on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post

 

There are a lot of frustrated bright and gifted English Language Learners out there. It's heartbreaking to see a low language-level student SOOOOO excited about a concept or idea in their brain, practically bursting with a desire to share his/her thoughts, and then just... give up and say "I don't know" because the words just aren't there. Or an intermediate language-level student stuck reading materials that do not challenge them intellectually because finding high-challenge, low-language materials is really really difficult, and advanced texts aren't available in all languages. Besides, there aren't teachers who speak every language to help guide students through the advanced material anyway, and even fewer teachers who speak other languages *AND* know how to work with gifted students.

 

 


At the risk of taking this thread off-topic, this is exactly the concern about using foreign language immersion programs as a substitute for true gifted programming. I've heard lots of parents say that their child is in a language immersion program and it's just like a gifted class. It isn't. Not by a long shot.

 

There are lots of really good reasons to choose foreign language immersion schooling, but gifted learning isn't one of them.

 

 

 

That's actually what people have been telling me we should do with DS when he starts kindergarten here. Not that I don't *want* him to learn Yup'ik, but... it's not exactly what he needs, you know?

 

 

And that's part of the reason, honestly, that I'm interested in it professionally right now. I'd LOVE for there to be some (limited... our district won't, for various reasons, have a standalone classroom) gifted programming available when DS1 (presuming he's actually gifted, which... I'm not ASSUMING at this point, but early indicators are there, you know?), and I don't want to see it be just a him and a bunch of other white kids getting pulled out of the classroom.


Edited by blizzard_babe - 12/17/10 at 10:31am
post #32 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post
Our district has a very high performing triligual school where most of the teachers are hispanic and native speakers. We are also a border town so high population of hispanic people and families who have been here for generations. Perhaps that translates into more of our hispanic children in GATE.


A town where most of the hispanic population has been there for generations is very different from the population at my children's school, where most of the parents come from very rural areas of Mexico and have very little education.  The parents are incredibly hard working and do the best they can, but they have very very little understanding of the system, and very little time to do the enrichment that the non-immigrant population can do. I suspect for a fair number of them have Spanish as their second language, rather than their first.

 

I would argue that it's more about culture than race. And cultural expectations work both ways -- so that's where the racism comes in. At the level that I teach at, the most vulnerable group are first generation college students. There's just so much they don't know about how the university works. Everything from getting into closed classes to seeing an adviser or going to see a professor when you first start to have trouble.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

They are not here. In fact, despite being a largely white community, we have tons and tons of people of Asian and Indian (which is also Asian I guess) decent. Most of them are not in homes that speak English as a primary language. 


Yes, it's more than not speaking the language that keeps some groups back. A lot of the Korean/Japanese families I know place a huge importance on education and doing well. They send their kids to afterschool programs, to weekend school and make education the absolute focus of the family. They will push the school system to provide for their kids. Part of it is being connected to a network of other parents who understand the system.

post #33 of 53

=

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post


I would argue that it's more about culture than race. And cultural expectations work both ways -- so that's where the racism comes in. At the level that I teach at, the most vulnerable group are first generation college students. There's just so much they don't know about how the university works. Everything from getting into closed classes to seeing an adviser or going to see a professor when you first start to have trouble.

 


I don't think I would say it is *culture* but rather *cultural capital.*

 

See here.

post #34 of 53


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

=

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post


I would argue that it's more about culture than race. And cultural expectations work both ways -- so that's where the racism comes in. At the level that I teach at, the most vulnerable group are first generation college students. There's just so much they don't know about how the university works. Everything from getting into closed classes to seeing an adviser or going to see a professor when you first start to have trouble.

 


I don't think I would say it is *culture* but rather *cultural capital.*

 

See here.

 

Yes, I agree, I just phrased it badly.
 

post #35 of 53
Thread Starter 

Well, I didn't mean to blame the poor Caucasian families for the situations they are in. But what I meant to say is that they are not living in the low-income neighborhoods with the low-performing schools because they are sending 20% of their salary back to family in another country and can't get a good job because of their immigration status. The reasons they are there have more to do with being high-school dropouts, drug and alcohol use, and just general dysfunction, you know? I don't blame them (too much) for their situation, but I don't want my kids to spend too much time with them, either.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

I think that idea ventures into the realm of blaming underrepresented minorities for their current situation. (i.e. "the reason that immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants are smarter" instead of "the reason immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants have not experienced the same psychic racism that exists for US-born black people due to generations of oppression.")

post #36 of 53


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

Well, I didn't mean to blame the poor Caucasian families for the situations they are in. But what I meant to say is that they are not living in the low-income neighborhoods with the low-performing schools because they are sending 20% of their salary back to family in another country and can't get a good job because of their immigration status. The reasons they are there have more to do with being high-school dropouts, drug and alcohol use, and just general dysfunction, you know? I don't blame them (too much) for their situation, but I don't want my kids to spend too much time with them, either.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

I think that idea ventures into the realm of blaming underrepresented minorities for their current situation. (i.e. "the reason that immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants are smarter" instead of "the reason immigrant black people are doing better than black people who have been here for generations is that the immigrants have not experienced the same psychic racism that exists for US-born black people due to generations of oppression.")


 


Not politically correct, but definitely food for thought.

post #37 of 53


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

Well, I didn't mean to blame the poor Caucasian families for the situations they are in. But what I meant to say is that they are not living in the low-income neighborhoods with the low-performing schools because they are sending 20% of their salary back to family in another country and can't get a good job because of their immigration status. The reasons they are there have more to do with being high-school dropouts, drug and alcohol use, and just general dysfunction, you know? I don't blame them (too much) for their situation, but I don't want my kids to spend too much time with them, either.
 

 

that's the neighborhood we live in. My partner has way too much student loan debt to have purchased anywhere else, and my income as a public school teacher (when we bought the home) was not high enough to really bring our income up enough to afford elsewhere either. We send significant amounts of money home to her mother every month, and her family is full of "high school drop outs, drug and alcohol use, and just general dysfunction."

 

We're on the other side of 5 years of unemployment/underemployment, and our household income has "recovered" to just about what it was 5 years ago. We got pretty close to losing our home, but thanks to (a) the investment of an education and (b) the safety net of my family and (c) the many years of good income we already had (and therefore we owned reliable cars, washing machine, dryer, etc) and (d) the network of people we knew from when we were both working highly intellectual and high status jobs, we made it through by the skin of our teeth.

 

We've gotten to know our neighbors pretty well in the past five years--some are poor blacks, some are poor whites, some are like us and are "bohemian" intellectuals who bought into a gentrifying neighborhood. Perhaps we are "lucky" because our son's giftedness puts him so far ahead of other kids that he stands out even when his peers are the children of professors/graduate students and doctors from the local university. But, I will say after getting to know our neighbors, I can't pinpoint a moment in their lives where if they did one thing differently, they would be in a different place than they are now. Just like me--they made some mistakes, they've had some successes, and yet, because of the cultural capital I inherited from my family, I have ended up in a totally different life than they did.

 

I don't know exactly what I am trying to say, except that I try my hardest to see our common humanity, and have known too many very smart, wealthy people who do stupid things, and I have known too many very smart, poor people who do far less stupid things--but the ramifications are greater for the poor people than the wealthy ones.
 

post #38 of 53


I don't always think this is just with minority boys.  When my son was in K and 1st grade I noticed the boys seem to get picked on and admondished more.  I do think race made it worse.

 

One of the final straws that caused me to pull him out was he was getting blamed for stuff.  He had a little girl friend.  They were buds, they held hands, they apparently kissed (pecked).  I am not saying this behavior was ok and didn't cause problems but.........one day the teach came up to me and goes you won't believe what Xavier did today.  I was like "Oh Great." She procede to tell me how my child got this little girl to get up from her desk, walk across the classroom, and give him a peck.  I asked her how did he get her to stand up and walk isn't that her fault?  How did he "make" her do anything.  The situation though was his fault.  

 

I think with boys sometimes they are wrongly diagnosed because they are not mature enough for school yet.  They are label when the problem is immaturity and the classes are not what they need.  

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

I just wanted to come back and say that I'm so sorry about this, and share that this seems to happen at my dd's school too. There is one AA boy in her class, and he seems to me no worse or no better than any of the other boys. Totally average. But I swear his teacher picks on him all the time, and seems to be singling him out for behavior that they are all doing. I think about it A LOT, especially because I've been hearing a lot lately of those studies that found that AA boys did so much more poorly than their white counterparts. Good luck with your fight!
 


 
post #39 of 53

I do agree that racism plays a huge part...but one thing the black community is struggling with is "Thug" glofication.

 

My son (white) is participating in a college out reach program. It was/is not design just to be minorities but it is 95% AA.

 

One of the issues they address is this and what parents expect from their children and combating media. One speaker said something that really upset a lot of AA parents. You cannot control what happens outside your home but when you allow it, from day one, when you act it, and don't take responciblity for what you can control. Don't be a part of why your child will struggle. You don't want your child to idolize gansta rap artist, don't allow them in your home. Let your kids know what you expect and the standards. This one lady was very upset and actually stated, "I don't want my kids acting white." He challenge her own perception of what "being white" is....He asked her how is it being white not to be a thug? Dressing provocative? Being educated?  

 

It was mentions buy another AA mom that -- Many of the AA kids that are in this program are in advance placement.  They run into an issue with "being white".  Some are outcast as schools because they are smart AA kids and don't fit in with the white students. Then they are outcast in the AA community because they are "acting white".  Yes, this idea has roots in racism but the change has to come from with in the AA community to not see being smart, educated, and successful at "being white."  One grandparent was poignant in expressing that many in the AA need lack on to the smart, educated, a successful ideas and adopt them as goals that they should and can be it isn't just an "white" or "asian" idea (Asians were mention by someone else).  This grandparent also stated some parenting practice he saw in the AA needs to stop....more parents need to sit down with their kids and insure that they learn if the parents couldn't do it find the resources and grandparents that supports it.  He was with his grand child, a nephew, a niece, and 3 other children in his neighborhood. College and excellence is expected -- and these kids are doing it. 

post #40 of 53

What you are describing are the outcomes of psychic racism, institutional racism, and systemic racism.

 

The vast majority of people listening to gangsta rap are white--the "thug culture" is the modern-day manifestation of the various black archetypes of years past in entertainment.

 

The parents who are raising this generation of Black children grew up experiencing racism and oppression, and to point fingers at them for not overcoming it *is* blaming the victim. Do I wish that more black parents were proactive about things like this? Absolutely! But, blaming them for it doesn't make them more proactive--it just makes them more defensive.

 

Jonathan Kozol's book "Shame of the Nation" talks about this to some degree--though it is far more about funding inequality and differences in schooling.

 

My father spent his career running the Talented and Gifted program in an urban high school that was 100% African American. He has a lot to say about this topic, and very little of it is pointed at the parents.  though, yes, anyone who wants their child to go to an Ivy League college needs to set up expectations and family structures so that the goal is within reach, but, schools also need to be more responsive to the needs and experiences of students of color so that they aren't required to check their culture at the door in order to do well in school.

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