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Research Workshop: "Talent Development Programs Perpetuate Racial Injustice"

Claire Mills (University of Georgia)

Friday, January 29, 2021 (12:10-2:00 PM)

Claire Mills


In the United States, about 7% of public-school children are considered to be ‘gifted and talented’ and participate in talent development programs; the attribution of innate talent potential is used to justify extra attention and resources given to these students. Participation in these programs has been statistically shown to have a substantial positive effect on the adult lives of the children chosen to participate, and thus it is important to ask if these programs are set up to distribute that benefit fairly. Rawls’ theory of justice requires that the institutions that make up our society are organized in such a way that they fairly distribute the resources generated by our society. I argue that talent development programs are in violation of Rawls’ difference principle, and further that they perpetuate inequality. As a result of the bias involved with how talent development programs identify who is gifted (making use of indicators that are in large part the result of a child’s economic privileges), Rawls’ difference principle is violated through giving extra attention and resources to those who are likely already in the most advantageous situation.

This problem is more specifically a racial justice issue, because of the comparative likelihood minority students are to experience lower levels of resource-access due to the institutionalized racism inherent to our basic structures of society, as well as the compounding factors of biases towards children of minority racial groups, such as lower expectations of ability and success. My conclusion is that America’s large-scale use of gifted programs therefore reinforces existing racial inequalities, which results in a perpetuation of racial injustice in education and beyond.

All Research workshops will be held via Zoom for the 2020-2021 school year. Zoom links are available on the Philosophy Major and Minor Canvas site.


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