Young, Gifted, and Black

Young, Gifted, and Black

8-year-old twins (Image: Photos by Adeyela Albury Bennett)

Since then, the superintendent of schools–who “expressed concern,”–has contacted the Bennetts, and wants to help resolve the issue. The school recently tested the girls. Throughout the process, Bennett says, “mistakes were made every step of the way.” At a meeting with school officials, the first thing they did was apologize–however, the twins are still not in the gifted program, though they have been placed with a more compatible teacher.

“The school seems to make a concerted effort to keep kids of color out of the gifted program,” Bennett concludes. However, she and her husband are still fighting for their daughters’ inclusion.

Gifted–with a disability
One of the Bennett twins has a vision disorder called convergence insufficiency which causes her to see words and numbers improperly. However, the Section 504 accommodation protects children with disabilities from being discriminated against. Students with disabilities can still be gifted. As part of the accommodation, this twin will get more time to figure out words and to take tests.

“Many children are kept out of gifted programs if they have a disability,” Adeyela says. “Schools just don’t know how to handle the combination. The expectation is that gifted kids are geniuses, they are perfect, they behave perfectly, when, in fact, many gifted kids have behavior problems and will ultimately have academic problems if they’re not challenged in the proper way.”

The takeaway: If you’re getting the runaround at your child’s school, follow the Bennetts’ example and

  • If possible, move to a neighborhood that has a gifted program in the school.
  • Start the testing process as early as possible.
  • If your child is disabled and gifted, find out about the Section 504 accommodation.
  • Persist. Go to the press if you need to, as the Bennetts did. BE Smart would love to advocate on your behalf.