Teaching Requirements differ

I just got my first issue of “Tempo” put out by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (Winter 2007). I looked over the contributing authors, the executive board members. I read through the president’s goals for the coming year. It was interest to note that the TAGT organization has the goal of obtaining 6,000 members during the coming year and I further noted that there are 336,000 identified gifted students in the state of Texas. I don’t know the exact numbers for Louisiana but it is significantly less. I never made it to a Louisiana Gifted Conference so that I could compare its membership number with Texas. Several classmates and my gifted professor had attended the conference in Louisiana and talked highly of it.

The other interesting thing in the magazine was the table of state requirements to be qualified to teach gifted students. I had a hint of what was coming when I read in the introduction by the editor of the magazine. “The survey of gifted teacher certification (or lack thereof) across the United States found Texas not at the bottom of teacher requrirments but very near. Thirty clock hours is better than no training at all, but a far cry from states such as Louisiana…..which requires no less than 12 hours of graduate work in gifted education.”When I looked at the table I found that Louisiana’s requirements are top notch: Master’s Degree with course work in gifted education (I took at 12 credit hours of course work and have three years teaching gifted), and 3 semester hours of practicum, internship or 3 years all in teaching the academically gifted. Texas requirements: 30 hours of professional development in gifted education or 30 hour training requirement in one semester and 6 hours annually on professional development in gifted education.

I think both programs have strengths. The strength of the Louisiana requirement is the foundation and professionalism, while the strength of the Texas program is its continuing professional development. But it is clear that Louisiana’s program is more thorough and deep.
What does all this mean to me? I’m beginning to understand why I have such difficulty in searching for a full time position teaching gifted students. It has also brought home the adage, “Big is not always better.” Not only am I fully qualified to be a gifted teacher in the state of Texas but I am qualified to head up some type of department or be a gifted coordinator (whatever that means in this state – which varies from district to district.) You are already aware of my other difficulty: having two ‘homes’ to work from: one downtown Houston and one in NW Houston (almost rural).

The other interesting article in “Tempo” is the article about gifted education in rural Texas, “To be Young, Gifted, & Rural. Apparently, Texas has “more rural gifted students than any other state, and 23% of its public schools are in rural areas, even though its rural enrollment is less than 15% of Texas’ total student population.” I should also take into consideration the rural school district located just east of me.

Well, more information and still yet no clear direction. The small gifted school in West Houston seems the best fit but it has its limitations also. Very small, not a lot resources, demanding requirements outside of the school room but strong parental support, clear idea of giftedness and its social and emotional issues being the main ones. There is still time to do other research.  Looks like I have my work cut out for me……