Monday, April 10, 2006

NJ Governor's School Gone... For Lack of $1.92 Million

Unless something changes soon, six hundred bright New Jersey high school juniors will soon receive a rather ominous letter. It will inform them that, thanks for all the work you've done applying for Governor's School -- a prestigious, free summer program for the state's top students -- but the funds were cut retroactively from the 2006 budget. Governor's School no longer exists. Find other plans for the summer.

New Jersey, like many states, has been having budget trouble of late, and has been trying to figure out which programs to cut. Governor's School wound up landing on the chopping block. What's saddest, though, is that the $1.92 million this program cost was the only state funding for gifted education in New Jersey. Local school districts offer programs if they have the cash. Not surprisingly, well-to-do districts are more likely to have the cash than poor ones. Well-to-do students can also afford to attend summer programs for the gifted at various universities such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard. New Jersey just cut one of the only programs that reached gifted kids who weren't well-to-do.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jonathan Last has an op-ed about the cuts in Sunday's paper called "Gifted Students Shortchanged."

Based on some previous discussions on this blog, I don't like the idea of pitting children against children, but Last does point out that the education cuts were not shared equally. Some programs, such as special education, gained funding. New Jersey will spend $1.6 billion on special education next year. No doubt those funds will do a lot of good for special needs kids. But it is sad that the state could find $1.6 billion for special education and absolutely nothing for gifted education. Guess bright kids without extra income are on their own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, after much delay and apparently help from private organizations and donations, nj governor's school will be running this summer (at no cost to participants)