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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Race, Class, and Whiteness in Gifted and Talented Identification: A Case Study

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What began fifteen years ago as a volunteer effort to promote desegregation via a gifted and talented magnet school has become a case study analyzing inequalities in the identification of young children for gifted and talented services. We use Cheryl Harris’ (1993) argument that “whiteness” is a form of property that creates and maintains inequalities through the conjoining of race and class. We show how gifted and talented status meets the criteria of white property interests and is defended by recourse to law and policy. Efforts to improve identification of students for gifted services reveal that the implicit operation of these Interests is an important reason why identification practices favoring white and middle-class children have been resistant to change. Dismantling underlying white property interests in gifted and talented identification is a necessary, though not sufficient step, toward a more just educational system.

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