February greetings! As I write this I am awaiting the “blue moon” that will rise on Tuesday evening. A “blue moon” is the second full moon that occurs within the same month. I researched how often a “blue moon” occurs and I found out that they happen on average about once every 2.7 years, or 7 times in the 19-year Metonic cycle. Moreover, the following morning, the luckiest of us will bear witness to its lunar eclipse. The last one occurred in 1866, over 150 years ago! I know that you didn’t open this page to have an astronomy lesson however, there may be a different lesson to learn here.
The other day I was talking to a mom of a gifted child and she told me that her daughter gets “gifted services once in a blue moon”. I know of another family that recently made a move (to a new community 200 miles away from their northern home) in hopes of receiving gifted services for their three children. Another just shared that they open enrolled their son in a community 30 miles from their home and are providing transportation on a daily basis to get his educational needs met. Over the years I have heard countless stories like these. Each and every one breaks my heart and yet fuels my desire for change. Why is it, that for some, gifted services should be as rare a “blue moon” when we see such need? Gifted students do not and cannot “take care of themselves”. The longer I am in gifted education, the clearer it becomes to me that the “once in a blue moon” gifted program cannot become the norm for our gifted students.
I am currently an instructor for a local community college. My role is varied and includes supporting students that are working toward their GED’s or HSED’s (high school diplomas). These students, for whatever reasons, dropped out of school before they earned their high school diploma. Each student must be pre-tested as they enter the program. Initially, I was surprised to see the number of students that pre-tested at a post high school level upon entrance. A significant number of students that dropped out in their very early high school years were scoring as students that had exposure and gained competencies in all, or most of, the areas of the curriculum. The more I tested, the more I could see a trend. Conversations with these high scoring students have lead me to understand that they simply could not stay in a system where their individual needs were not being met. Some are students that had life experiences that pulled them away from school. Yet some are students that are twice exceptional and were placed in special education without gifted support. Some are gifted “untraditional” learners that could not survive in a “traditional” setting. Whatever caused them to leave school must be addressed so this cycle can be broken.
As a school board member, I have recently joined a book study group of K-12 teachers and administration in our district. We are reading the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk- Our Hope for the Future by Brendtro, Brokenleg and Bockern and published by Solution Tree Press. While this book is not specifically about gifted students it gives clarity to several of the issues that gifted students face and identifies why there is a persistent risk of failure. I have only started reading it and will share more in next month’s blog. In the meantime, I have to curb my desire to make this book study all about gifted education and the absolute needs of our gifted students.
And so I wait with bated breath… for the “blue moon” lunar eclipse later this week… and for the time when advocates of gifted children have a voice about the absolute needs and rights of these students. Please, I encourage you to “come to the table” if you are not already here! We need your voice, your passion and your willingness to stand with us on behalf of our gifted children. Perhaps let the moon be a gentle and stately reminder to you that there are gifted children that need your response each and every day… not just once in a “blue moon”.