Give them their due

Published 6:34 am Saturday, February 16, 2008

By Staff
When it comes to doing the right thing, many people do it. They don’t wait until someone tells them to do it before doing it.
Some of the state’s public school systems need to adopt that attitude.
In a recent report’s findings, the state auditor said regulators are not monitoring whether school systems use North Carolina tax dollars wisely when it comes to teaching gifted students. Les Merritt, the state’s auditor, released those findings Thursday as part of a performance audit of the Academically or Intellectually Gifted Program, according to an Associated Press article.
North Carolina spent $58 million on programs for 155,000 gifted students during the last fiscal year, according to the AP article. That money goes to school systems, but the audit discovered that some school systems spent the money elsewhere, such as hiring teachers for students who are not gifted.
That’s plain wrong.
Although the audit determined state law doesn’t make it clear the state’s Department of Public Instruction should monitor how that money is spent, there’s should be no doubt who should benefit from that money — gifted students. The department, for the most part, concurs with the audit’s findings and the audit’s recommendation the law be made more clear.
Millions of dollars are spent each year in North Carolina to provide remedial programs for students who are not gifted academically and prevent at-risk students from dropping out of school. When it comes to academics, the state’s most-gifted students deserve access to resources that will enable them to make the most of their academic gifts.
Not only will those students benefit from such investment, but so will the state. Making sure the state’s best and brightest become better and brighter is worth an investment of millions of dollars. Money earmarked for gifted students should go to gifted students. Taking money earmarked for gifted students and using it to hire teachers to work with students who are not academically gifted is a misuse of taxpayers’ money.
That means academically gifted students may not receive the intended educational services they need to compete in a national and global setting.
The audit was started in May 2007 in response to parental concerns that AIG program funds were being used for other purposes while AIG students were being left underserved, the release notes. One school system, the audit discovered, transferred 99 percent of its AIG funds out of its AIG program in 2007 and transferred 98 percent of its AIG funds out of its AIG program in 2006.
Imagine how loud the cry would be if money allocated to students who struggled in classrooms was spent on gifted students instead. Well, gifted students deserve their fair share of education dollars.
Gifted students work hard to achieve their accomplishments. They deserve what’s due them.