That’s the question I asked when I met last weekend with a teacher employed by one of the Vancouver Island school districts. It’s impossible to find anything about what we persist in calling “gifted education” from websites and school district newsletters, so I had coffee with someone who works with gifted children. Isn’t it silly that I feel I have to conceal that teacher’s name, because the education for our brightest young people is such a hot button?
So the answer to the question is not much. We talked quite a bit about the children up Island in remote areas, and in the even remoter parts of northern BC, because this teachers gets regular phone calls from desperate parents in those areas. The well-being of their exceptional children rests on the shoulders of the already-overworked classroom teachers. You’ll recall that the New Curriculum rolled out last September speaks of an individualized plan for each child, to downplay even further the need for Individual Education Plans for gifted.
The cities on Vancouver Island do a little better, with Victoria having more programs than most other school districts. One issue we discussed over coffee was the $50 million infusion of provincial funds into the BC education system following the Supreme Court decision that the BC Teachers Federation has the authority to negotiate class size. According to the teacher I asked, that money has already been spent, mainly on hiring new teachers. No word on how many of them are involved in gifted education, but I have my suspicions.
As for the millions of dollars promised by the Liberals for new, future funding, it seems that the decisions about that spending will be upcoming shortly. Who will be making those decisions? I wish someone could tell me. The main hope seems to be in convincing trustees of the need for programs for children who are (still) described as gifted. What are you doing about that?