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Board of Education Elections: Beth Talbert

October 17, 2011

I have sent each Rochester Community Schools Board of Education candidate questions about Advanced & Gifted Education. Here are the questions and Beth Talbert‘s responses.

1) Do you believe the opportunities and education that exist for advanced and gifted students in Rochester Community Schools are sufficient?  Why or why not?

2) What role do you believe the Board of Education should have in recommending or implementing gifted education options in our district?

3) What changes do you believe should be made to best meet the needs of high achievers based on your understanding of the surrounding community, the current finances, and the needs of RCS students?

4) What role should parents have in determining gifted education options for our district?

5) Should gifted education options be implemented district-wide or at the option of the principals and teachers?

6) Are you a supporter of the International Baccalaureate program and would you work to convert one or more elementary, middle, and high schools in RCS to the IB program?


Mrs. Talbert preferred to not provide written answers to the questions.  She and I met to discuss gifted education.  She appears to understand the need for advanced education for students ahead of grade level and has raised the issue at board meetings in regards to various goals.  She believes the superintendent should take the lead on gifted education policy, but the board should let the administration know if the direction taken is not what they believe it should be.

During the League of Women Voters forum, Mrs. Talbert answered the following questions.  I have transcribed the questions and answers below.

Do you believe in the education and opportunities that exist for the advanced and gifted students in Rochester Community Schools?

In terms of gifted and talented, that was a goal for the board this year for the administration to report back to us what is happening and what can we do.  Some additional coursework was added at the middle school as a result of that and when those goals came back, we made clear that wasn’t enough, that we need to keep that goal on our list, we need to look at that.  We have a new superintendent and I’d like to hear his thoughts on that, but I do believe that the board supports that more needs to be done there.

Are you a supporter of the International Baccalaureate program and would you work to convert one or more elementary, middle, or high schools to the IB program?

I am very supportive of the IB curriculum.  Our daughter also looked at the International Academy and so much of that program, I found appealing.  I like the longer school year.  I like that students are exposed to cultures around the world which I think is a critical skill in order to compete in today’s economy.  And all of those aspects, the rigorous study, I think we would want for all of our students.  So I think that is something our district should look at.  I don’t know that I would see that being separate and apart from remaining involved in the International Academy.  I think we’d have to sort through some of that.  I also think there are other programs we could look at.  The board visited one of the high schools in Ann Arbor.  They had a great magnet program right within the school that was for pre-med, another one that was for social studies and law.  A number of different interesting ways they configured the school day for their students that could enrich them.  And so I’m in favor of looking at all of those.

Any members of Rochester SAGE, please take the time to introduce yourself to Mrs. Talbert if you encounter her.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE!  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2011 11:29 AM

    I really distrust statements like, “I’m in favor of looking into that.”

    Our school board spent years “looking into” All Day Kindergarten to provide a more enriched education for our kids. I’ve seen this brought up at board meetings back in 2006 and 2007.

    It’s finally getting implemented next year – the 2012-13 school year – after 6 years of “looking into that”. The result is that over 6,000 students missed out on the opportunity that the program would have provided them.

    Being in favor of simply “looking at” something doesn’t get it implemented. Neither does “setting a goal to look into that”. It doesn’t help our kids. If the program has merit, then let’s be in favor of implementing it – and actually follow through.

    Being a board member means having a vision and a drive towards improving education for all of our kids. There’s nothing visionary about committing to merely “looking into that”.

  2. October 17, 2011 2:31 PM

    “we made clear that wasn’t enough, that we need to keep that goal on our list, we need to look at that.”

    OK, so the administration did not do what was asked of them? Nobody was held accountable… and instead they pushed it forward to the following year?

    Or, was it a case of not being clear on the goals?

    In either case, how many years need to elapse before we realize this is a problem?

  3. October 17, 2011 7:12 PM

    To be fair, there was a goal given by the board to the administration to look at Gifted and Talented programs.

    “To develop a timeline for making recommendations regarding the review of Gifted and Talented Education.” (You can see for yourself on Page 2, “Board Curriculum and Instruction Committee Goals”

    It’s unclear what vision the school board – or Ms. Talbert – has for advancing gifted and talented education. Is it simply to derive timelines for listening to recommendations? What guidelines were given in order to generate legitimate recommendations, and why was an 8th Grade Advanced Language Arts class the only outcome so far?

    A lot of questions with no easy answers.

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