Below is some information that Gifted Families and gifted parent support groups might consider asking candidates for local school board.
As we know, districts must follow state requirements for the gifted education services our students receive. The implementation, though, is decided by local school districts, so it is important to make sure that voters have as much information as possible to make informed decisions when they head to the polls (or mailbox!).
We have compiled questions and tips used by other GT parent groups in seeking information from local candidates for school boards. If you have a question that your group has used in the past with success, or have used now, please feel free to send us an email. If it helps you, it could also help another group!
Questions for Local School Board Candidates
Commitment to Gifted/Talented and Advanced Students
How important do you feel it is for instruction, programs, and services to enable students from all populations to reach the highest levels of achievement they can reach, including levels above their age-grade?
Commitment to Meeting or Exceeding Texas State G/T Requirements
Texas law requires districts to identify and serve GT students in grades K-12 and to comply with the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students (updated 2019). The State Plan includes requirements and an “exemplary” column of additional best practices. How important do you believe it is for our district to fully comply with state requirements and to make efforts to meet and maintain “exemplary” status under the State Plan?
Commitment to Funding G/T Programs
As you may be aware, House Bill 3 moved the previous G/T Allotment into general funding while further increasing general funding. One argument for doing so was to encourage districts to spend more funds on G/T services. Do you think the current levels of district spending should be different? If so, at what priority level would you place gifted services? What is your commitment to maintaining or increasing the current level of funding support for our GT students?
Because of the current economic situation, it is likely that there will be cuts to funding for our school district. What areas do you plan on making cuts in first in order to create a workable budget? What areas do you find necessary to maintain because of their importance?
Commitment to Equity and Diversity in our District’s G/T Program
Do you believe our district should have a goal of increasing diversity in GT education, as well as a goal of increasing opportunities for students from diverse populations to achieve National Merit recognition, to secure college scholarships, and to pursue post-secondary education options that support their interests and individual potential?
Commitment to Seeking Community & Expert Input
As a Trustee, how open would you be to input from experts in learning diagnoses, including experts on gifted needs, and how do you feel about receiving input and support from groups of parents dedicated to special needs and learning differences, including gifted needs?
Commitment to Serving G/T Students in Remote Learning
During COVID-19, many families have chosen to continue to learn virtually. In this format, it has been a challenge to serve all the needs of gifted students. How do you plan on working with the district to verify that making sure students are given an appropriate, challenging education is given a priority?
Commitment to G/T Students in lower SES Populations
There are many schools in our district with larger lower SES populations. It seems that these schools also have a lower number of identified gifted students. What plans will you work to put in place to raise the number of identified students? How will you work with the families to make sure they understand the importance of gifted programs and to make sure that their students feel comfortable in the programs?
Some tips from our volunteers:
- In an effort to try and get the highest success rate of a response from all candidates given the late date, it might be best to choose the top two questions from the list and send them off to the candidates.
- For time’s sake, it might be best to appoint a contact from your parent group that will handle sending the questions out and compiling the responses to share with your parent group. This will create an easier way to condense the information, without having many users ask the same questions, as well as making sure that you can post all the candidate’s responses.
- We feel it is important to make sure all candidate responses can be accessed so there is no perception of favoritism, even if that was not the intention.
Statement of non-endorsement:
Please also note that as a non-profit organization, GEFN does not endorse any specific candidate, even if we do have school board member candidates and incumbents on our board! What we DO endorse is for voters to be educated and understand how the candidates view gifted education and other issues that are important to them personally. We hope that providing this information to you, you can share with your members to help them make an educated choice.