“Unfortunately, many of our nation’s brightest students from underserved populations (e.g., Black, Hispanic, English Learner, and/or free and reduced-price lunch eligible) are not being identified as gifted and do not receive gifted education services,” says Del Siegle, principal investigator with the National Center for Research on Gifted Education and an associate dean with the Neag School. “About 80% of states that completed the most recent National Association for Gifted Children’s State of the States survey indicated that underrepresentation of students from underserved populations was an important or very important issue in their state.”
“Teachers and educators are not super supportive of acceleration,” said Betsy McCoach, one of the researchers and a professor at the University of Connecticut. “But it doesn’t make sense to pull kids together to do the same thing that everyone else is doing.”
Brandi Simonsen, a professor of special education in UConn’s Department of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education and co-director of the Center for Behavioral Education and Research, was interviewed about the use of restraint and seclusion and whether the federal government has a role to play in regulating their use in public schools.
“I think there was a failure to anticipate private entities taking advantage,” said Preston Green, a professor of education leadership and law at the University of Connecticut. “The lack of guidelines for those companies opened the way to potential abuses — drawing a comparison to the lax regulation of financial markets that led to the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago. ”
U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2020 rankings of the best graduate schools of education in the nation, with the Neag School of Education ranking among the top 20 public graduate schools of education in the United States for the fourth consecutive year.
The ability to collaborate and advocate beyond the classroom and across stakeholders, from department chairs to administrators to parents, is a crucial teacher leadership skill, says Michele Back, assistant professor of world languages education at Neag School of Education. The critical shortage of world language teachers, she says, combined with the diminishing number of U.S. students taking world language courses, means that teacher candidates in this content area must be strong advocates for their own profession from the moment they step into the classroom.
“We’re trying to make it so people with disabilities have more opportunities for employment in society, right?” said Allison Lombardi, a professor who teaches in the Special Education Program at the University of Connecticut. “There’s not a separate society for just people with disabilities, so it really doesn’t make sense for us to create programs that are so separate.”
Claire Smith, an African-American female, grew up in a time when both of her underrepresented identities first made their breakthroughs. She told of how both her parents grew up as big Jackie Robinson fans and how that had a trickle-down effect on her. In a time where blacks in America faced oppression in a multitude of areas in society, every breakthrough was of major significance.
“This is a matter of priorities,” says Preston Green. “States should first provide sufficient funding to traditional public schools in urban areas. Once states have systems of traditional public schools that meet the educational needs of these students, then they can assess how much funding and resources to devote to charter schools.”
Congratulations to our Neag School alumni, faculty, staff, and students on their continued accomplishments inside and outside the classroom.