I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Discord on the Gifted Advisory Committee

I received the below email from one member of the district's gifted education task force.

It appears as if some in the group feel as if the district is headed in the right direction, yet there is discord from a small vocal minority that is attempting to push the group a different way via social media and political pressure.  I'll be asking some questions in the next few days to get a sense of what is really going on.

To Whom it May Concern,

Two years ago, I was asked to join what I had hoped would be a gifted advocacy committee; however, it is becoming the gifted advisory council that the initial, yet small contingency of parents wanted in the first place. I have been a part of this group since its formation as a gifted work group and have watched as that small group of people have pushed their narrow-minded personal agenda onto the School Board and District Administration through the media, social networking, and behind the scenes political pressure. I am one of the many who see and appreciate the growth our gifted program has experienced over the past couple years. I teach gifted endorsement classes and have over thirty teachers enrolled in the current course. The district is encouraging as well as fully reimbursing this professional development in order to equip as many teachers as possible to provide our gifted students services in any and all classrooms. The district is funding small groups of teachers to collaborate in developing gifted curriculum to disseminate to all teachers who wish to use it. Our under served population of gifted students are being served at a higher rate than the state mandate and higher than most Florida counties. Is there more that can be done? Absolutely. Could this group bring in community and business partners to increase opportunities and resources which our district simply cannot afford? Absolutely. Could this group be a listening ear and place to collect and analyze data from the voices of our teachers, students, and parents so as to brainstorm new possibilities for our gifted population? I had hoped so. Unfortunately, this School Board has encouraged the formation of what I believe will now be a platform for the narrow-minded, personal, and political agenda which was seen over a year ago. This is not in the best interest of our district and will not serve the needs of our gifted students and teachers who want to continue to improve what they have going in their home schools. I was eager to lead this group into becoming a true advocacy committee, not an advisory council set up to attempt to strong arm the administration and School Board into giving a few people what they want personally. After much thought, I no longer wish for my name to be associated with this group, therefore, I am submitting my resignation. I applaud this district for being open to listening to the needs of the community, but this group has become a group for the needs of the few. I hope to serve the district in many other capacities throughout my career; however, being a part of this group will not be one of them.

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