Newsweek ran an interesting My Turn essay a few weeks ago. The March 9, 2009 edition featured an essay entitled, "Autism and Education," which was written by a mother of two.
One of her children -- her son -- is autistic. Her daughter is not, and yet has special needs of her own. The daughter is gifted.
Yet due to differences in federal laws and funding, her son receives a multitude of services that her daughter does not.
Obviously, each of her children have different needs. Her daughter does not need an aide to navigate the social scene and curriculum of a mainstream classroom. But as the author points out, her daughter could benefit from some specialized assistance as well -- maybe even more so than her son.
It's a controversial point: Should we spend more money on the gifted and talented, even if that means cutting back services for the less able?
The truth is, there's not enough money to go around, so choices will have to be made. Currently, the differences are stark: $24.5 billion allotted to No Child Left Behind, to encourage all children, including the disabled, to meet minimum standards. $7.5 billion available in federal grants to fund gifted and talented education.
With limited money and resources, perhaps more of our money should go to those with the most potential, those with the innate ability to make connections the rest of us may never even see.
It's an intriguing essay and an intriguing proposition. Take a look and tell me what you think.