Universal access to preschool and college education are exactly what New Mexico needs to develop maximum success for our students and future citizens. As a teacher and program leader working to develop talents of our state’s most intellectually capable students, I have seen firsthand how the advantages of early opportunity result in readiness for college.
Our state has made major strides toward minimizing the negative effects of opportunity in identifying students for gifted education. We grow year after year toward finding and serving the population of gifted students who represent our state’s linguistic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity.
These diverse gifted students responds positively to talent development, with higher levels of engagement, growth in thinking skills and increases in content knowledge. Yet despite our best efforts, not all students in even this fast-learning group graduate ready for college. Those with greater advantages and fewer barriers are much more likely to be on track for college readiness.
There are three major reasons some high-ability students graduate lacking college readiness, and all are related to time.
Reason 1: Learning takes time and those who have been learning school-type knowledge for longer start ahead of those who have not.
Reason 2: Teachers lack the time to teach to the range of students in their classrooms.
Reason 3: Students with more stressors outside of school have less attention to pay to their studies both in and out of the classroom.
We can control for the first two causes through early education — giving students more uniform access to early learning and teachers a group of students more evenly prepared. Reducing stressors outside of the classroom is a long-term impact of the higher education. When New Mexico gets the next generation of college-educated parents, we will get a new wave of students who are better enabled to learn.
The Lujan Grisham administration is right to support universal access to preschool and college. The New Mexico Association for the Gifted does as well. This well-thought-out application of resources is a wise investment for our children and future.
Geoffrey Moon is the president of the New Mexico Association for the Gifted. He teaches and coordinates gifted education programs for Santa Fe Public Schools.