During a time when the phrase “budget cuts” is becoming all too common in school districts across the state, a new community group is looking to ensure that honors programs and advanced placement courses are not decimated.
Three Village Schools-Advocates for Gifted Education (3VSAGE) is an organization of parents and teachers who are striving to keep higher-learning options available in Three Village schools.
“I think the perception is that talented learners don’t need support in order to continue their endeavors,” said Tanya Adams, co-president of 3VSAGE. “We have a lot of children in this district that are very high ability learners who will need that support in order to meet their potential.”
3VSAGE is a local chapter of Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education in New York State, which is associated with the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The NAGC advocates for an estimated 3 million gifted children across the United States and has over 45 associations in the states, according to its website.
The definition of “gifted child” varies from state to state.
According to chapter 740 of the Laws of 1982, New York defines gifted as “pupils who show evidence of high performances capability and exceptional potential in area such as general intellectual ability, special academic aptitude and outstanding ability in visual and performing arts." The state's definition also requires access to additional programs or services beyond the typical school curriculum for gifted students to help them achieve their full potential.
In New York, the birth of the Three Village chapter came in September of 2011 as a result of proposed budget cuts in recent years. Advanced Placement courses are often among the first to go as a result of budget cuts; last year, the district's IG program and Pi program were slated for cuts before the school board adopted a budget that preserved them.
“It’s as if gifted children don’t have needs and they’ll be fine without enrichment programs,” Adams said.
Tired of having to form a coalition every time enrichment programs were at risk, Adams and co-president Karen O’Dell formed a group that would aim to have a lasting voice in the community. In addition to maintaining the current programs available to students in Three Village, Adams said the organization strives to expand the opportunities available to gifted children.
“They need support and we intend to keep that support,” Adams said.
The next 3VSAGE meeting is set for Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the W.S. Mount Auditorium.
On its website, the organization has provided sample letters that can be sent to state legislators in support of these programs and the children they serve.
In an email to Patch, school board vice president Jonathan Kornreich said he was pleased to see the new group advocating for the educational needs of gifted kids in Three Village – needs which he described as one form of special education.
"If we start cutting enrichment programs with the assumption that talented learners will still do fine, we will be failing in our mission and failing to maintain our commitment to those kids," he said. "... I believe that there should be an increased commitment to maintaining a full, diverse educational environment for all learners and that the responsibility for this should be placed within the already existing special education infrastructure."