You may think that the recent update to the federal Higher Education Act (formally H.R. 4137: College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008) won’t have much of an impact on you and your family until you have a child applying for college. However, that may not be the case, necessarily.
Prior to the bill becoming law, most teacher-education programs were not required specifically to prepare future teachers to work with gifted children. However, as part of the section of the law on teacher quality enhancement, the newly passed version requires any school receiving grants through the Higher Education Act to begin training its future teachers on how to work with gifted children. Although mentioned only twice in the bill, provisions for gifted and talented students call for their educational needs to be both identified and met. In calling for teachers to be trained to identify and meet the educational needs of gifted and talented students, the law should lead to more and better educational opportunities for your gifted child.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, a long-time advocate of gifted education, is largely credited with the inclusion of specific mention of gifted and talented children in the bill. The law, five years in the making, also creates numerous new reporting requirements for colleges and universities. It prohibits the secretary of education from imposing student learning measures on post-secondary institutions and adds to grant programs to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who can attend college.
The full text of the 431 page bill can be found at www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-4137.
—Matthew C. Makel, PhD