Summit to Honor Daugaards for State Support of Gifted Education

The University of South Dakota is hosting a Gifted Education Summit tomorrow morning in Vermillion on the Old Main North Lawn. The summit will “honor First Lady Linda Daugaard for her work with promoting STEM education and its impact on gifted students, Governor Dennis Daugaard for his continued support and endorsement of the SD Governor’s Camp.”

Appropriate trophy for South Dakota’s state support for gifted education?

Wait—we still have gifted education in South Dakota?

During my family’s brief stay in the Twin Cities last fall, the St. Paul School District sent us a letter indicating that our daughter qualified for the district’s gifted education program. When we returned to South Dakota, we learned that the Aberdeen School District offers no such opportunity. Aberdeen hung on longer than several other school districts after the Janklow-era budget cuts that eliminated all state support for gifted education.

South Dakota state government does nothing for gifted education. Governor Daugaard’s K-12 budget cuts in 2011 would have killed the gifted education program in Brookings if private donations hadn’t saved the program. South Dakota at least offers dual credit classes so go-getting high schoolers can accumulate some college credit for their hard work. But the state does little if anything to ensure that the best and brightest have challenging educational opportunities.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has found money to increase the number of districts offering gifted education programs. The Minnesota Department of Education has a Gifted and Talented Advisory Council that meets four times a year.

Maybe USD should invite Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to tomorrow’s event at USD to explain to Governor and Mrs. Daugaard that gifted education is much more than telling everyone to take STEM classes.

Related: On Tuesday Governor Daugaard congratulated the first recipients of the Build Dakota Scholarship for vo-tech education. $25 million from usurer turned philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and $25 million from the Governor’s economic development slush fund will pay tuition for 296 lucky recipients out of 1,062 applicants who have promised to put their vo-tech training to work in South Dakota for at least three years.

5 Responses to Summit to Honor Daugaards for State Support of Gifted Education

  1. That is rich. If that outing is anything like several other ventures among educators the last few years, there will be many who are smiling while they are biting their tongues, hard. Can you imagine being the administrator of a school during the Governor’s budget cut year? One day you’re deciding who/what program has to go, or how many more kids you dare put in one classroom, and the next day you’re being asked to interrupt classroom schedules for the honor of a visit from the Governor’s wife, and grant her access to the kids so the famous lady, gracious and smiling as she is, can read to them. And if you can’t find time now, that’s fine; they’ll be sure to keep you on their list and catch you next time around.

    It’s been a common approach of this administration to address issues that affect the entire population with shotgun, “merit-based,” i.e. “do you agree with me” and “do-you-care-enough-to-fill-out-the-grant-paperwork” approaches that only serve the lucky few. e.g. the grant money that went to new secondary career and technical education programs after he’d killed off all the individual school CTE programs and he was starting to get heat for workforce development.

    As for their invite to this event, perhaps USD’s Education Department is currying favor where it can be found in order to salvage this small vestige of the ideal of gifted education. Remember Rick Melmer, former Secretary of Education, is on staff there, and USD knows where its bread is buttered. The event itself is certainly admirable and the few kids who can attend are lucky, but they do not in any way make up for the thousands of kids around the state for the last 20 years who were not provided similar opportunities to capitalize on their gifts. For those who care about public education, it’s got to be difficult to have to bend and scrape for their crumbs this way.

  2. Do you think that some parents feel their only alternative to help educated what they feel is a gifted child here in South Dakota is to home school them?

    It may just be me but my observation is that a large number of home schooled kids and young adults I’ve run across have had more behavior issues than the norm and seem socially immature for their age. They have really struggled. Again not all but a number of them I have noticed.

    I know my friends that chose to home school their kids in a tightly controlled environment with an emphasis on religion tried to do their best to protect their children and provide them with a better educational experience than what was offered by the local public school system or even private faith based schools but they may have put their children at a disadvantage. Those kids miss out on social skill, coping, team oriented experiences dealing with winning, losing and some of those experiences though unpleasant are necessary for growth.

    The common theme was home schooled or being in a tight, extreme and controlled religious environment for learning yet this is what a number of our legislators are pushing for to support rather than an increased investment in public education.

    Am I the only one to notice this?

  3. Jennifer Wolff

    The “gifted program” at my school entailed meeting for an hour or so every other week and consisted mostly of prosaic activities like playing chess or doing crossword puzzles. My 8 year-old egalitarian self bristled with jealously and frustration that the students who needed additional academic support got Title classes, IEPs, and personal teaching aides; meanwhile I got reprimanded for working ahead of the rest of my classmates.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir

    Here is a Real Example of the respect teachers and schools ought to have. What About This, Daugards!?!?!?!

  5. That wouldn’t happen these days, at least not in MN schools, Jennifer. In today’s MN public schools, each student is encouraged to go at their own pace. It gets them comfortable with learning. Faster ones can go ahead, the ones that go slower and need extra help are encouraged to take their time and not worry about being slower. Education should not be a competition after all.
    The ‘gifted’ children in MN have schools of their own starting in middle school where it is tailored to really challenge them.