In Part #1 of her exclusive interview, actress and author Alicia Coppola shared with the NY Gifted Education Examiner her experiences raising three gifted children, as well as confessed, "I will say that finding the proper school environment is more challenging with highly/profoundly gifted children. This is where my views may be controversial."
In Part #2, she explains what she means:
Alicia Coppola: There are very few schools that focus solely on the highly/profoundly gifted students in our country. Those that do exist are private and very expensive, if you are fortunate enough to even live in a city where one exists. In a "Time Magazine" article on August 27, 2007, John Cloud, the writer, says that out of 62 million school-age children in our country, 62,000 have an IQ over 145.
If those 62,000 kids do not live by one of these schools (and can even afford this education), what happens to them? People very misguidedly assume that “the smart kid, the brilliant kid” will find his/her way… Not so. They drop out. They become marginalized. They become isolated and angry.
As Mr. Cloud quotes Columbia professor Abraham Tannenbaum: “Giftedness requires social context that enables it." Mr. Cloud goes onto say, “Like a muscle, raw intelligence cannot build without exercise.” This is not even taking into account the emotional and psychological education our brilliant children need.
People assume that students “on the spectrum” are the only children in need of emotional education and support This is simply untrue. The isolation that a highly/profoundly gifted child can endure during school can be crippling, as they are often left to themselves without any peers, friends and guidance.
Many children who are diagnosed with spectrum disorders are given funding for their emotional and psychological needs, but for the gifted child there is no such thing, and this is wrong, and terribly negligent.
Quite simply, our country’s public schools are not funded adequately for our brilliant children. Our country’s school system spends roughly 8 billion dollars on children with special needs with only about 10% of that funding going to the highly/profoundly gifted child who is also, in my opinion, in need of special attention.
I am not suggesting we take away funding for children with spectrum special needs. I am merely saying that under-nourishing our students of significant if not unlimited potential is a decision we, as a society, make at our own peril. Our highly/profoundly gifted children of today are our world changers of tomorrow. We should give money to our schools so some children can take care of themselves, but we should most definitely never forget or push to the side the children who one day will take care of us all.
We, as a society, should not be wary or neglectful of those who move faster, think faster and are faster than the rest. We should embrace it as we do all other facets of childhood education.
We are profoundly fortunate to live in a city where there is a school that not only caters to, but also inspires and encourages brilliant children. All three of my girls will be guided by the amazing teachers and administrators of this school. I say guided instead of educated because I believe that children’s education comes not so much from instruction, but from being encouraged to follow their passions, their instincts, that which fires their brains and tickles their hearts.
This school-age journey demands not just the three R’s, so to speak, but the guidance of the entire child. I believe every child, gifted or not, deserves this gift, to take them from bundles of potential to independently thinking, creatively expressive, productive adults. This should not be a privilege. This is a right for every child.
NYC parents are very fortunate, in that there are several school options for gifted children, including multiple private schools, public Gifted and Talented programs, and the public/private partnership that is Hunter College Elementary. However, these three different types of schools require three different application processes, tests and timelines. And, every year, there are many more children who qualify than there are available seats. Learn more at Kid 101.