ON-Lion Letter
A new guidebook for donors from the Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C., Closing America's High-achievement Gap:  A Wiser Giver's Guide to Helping Our Most Talented Students Reach Their Full Potential, makes a powerful case for a sorely needed U.S. educational improvement that has been almost entirely overlooked.  During the last two decades, philanthropists and education reformers have made urgent efforts to pull weak students up to levels of basic competency.  Though that vital work is incomplete, there is evidence of progress made among low achievers. 

Meanwhile, though, children at the other end of the achievement spectrum have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Programs and funding once aimed at stimulating high-potential students to make the most of their talents have withered, and we are now doing a poor job of stimulating our quick learners.

When the particular needs of high-potential students are not met by schools, that is a moral failure -- because every child deserves to be stretched and challenged.  It is also a threat to our national interests -- since high achievers will be crucial to America’s future ability to compete internationally.  This is a field where donors have wide-open opportunities to lead.

In Smarick's Closing America's High-achievement Gap, savvy school-reform philanthropists will be introduced to scores of programs and institutions that can pull talented students of all ages, races, and income levels up to their natural capabilities.

Smarick is a partner at Bellwether Education Partners and recently served as New Jersey's deputy commissioner of education.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the Philanthropy Roundtable.
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