How many people know what a gifted child is? Not many, and not many really care. A gifted child must have a tested I.Q. of 130 or 135 and above, depending on the school district.

So what does this gifted mean in education? In most school districts, not much more than an identification of ability level. It seems to me if you tell another parent your child has been identified as being gifted it’s like saying your child was arrested for stealing bicycles. But if the other parent tells you their child scored two touchdowns and is the best running back on their football team, that is common and acceptable. America loves its sports heroes!

Schools spend huge amounts of money on athletics, and I have no problem with that. I love to watch football like any other Southerner. In the State of Florida school districts receive additional funds for educating gifted students. The problem is the state leaves the implementation up to the school districts. Gifted programs vary from almost nothing to very minimal.

I want to see all children achieve their potential in education. This means I want gifted children to achieve their potential also. Special education is not something most people associate with a gifted child who makes A’s, learns faster than most children, and has many artistic abilities. Special education is what they need. There is a distinct difference between a high-achieving child who makes good grades and a gifted child. A gifted child sees the world differently than their peers and learns differently.

I know most people who read this are thinking I am advocating for an elitist group. Being gifted doesn’t mean a child is better, no more than a star football player is better than an average child. It means a child who has special intellectual abilities but otherwise is just like other children.

Until America decides to nurture its gifted children it will continue to lag behind much of the world in math, science and technology.

Bobby Cline, Santa Rosa Beach