Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get Smart! Try Gifted Advocacy with the Feds

The old "Call Your Legislator" trick.
Last week I attended the SENG conference (in conjunction with the New England Conference for the Gifted) in Hartford, CT. There, among many thought-provoking sessions, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Del Siegle (who wrote the Gifted Children's Bill of Rights) speak about NAGC's ABCs of advocacy.

I returned from the conference to my own state where, although there is a GT mandate it is only very partially funded (and some of that allocation is presently up in the air). As one can see from the Davidson Gifted Education State Policy page, GT ed can range from mandated and fully-funded to nothing at all. And such policy has an enormous impact on the families who depend on public education for their children. This certainly includes low-income students but also a broader spectrum; private education is not an alternative readily available to many families economically, geographically, or for a number of other dynamics.

But if students, parents and educators presently find a need to appeal for gifted "rights" in practice--for the appropriate public education of those students who have "the ability to grapple with complexity”--they may find they court only disappointment. There is no demand for consistency in how gifted students' needs are met within state educational systems nor across the US overall (see some of the boggling array graphed on HoagiesGifted). And there is no federal gifted policy to ensure that teacher training includes identifying and serving GT students (especially important when so many gifted students are in regular classrooms). Nor is there federal funding to support this.

What to do???  Legislators may not realize gifted education is important unless:
  • they hear from parents and educators (students too!)
  • they read about continuing GT needs in the papers (although a success story can make a good point as well)
  • the issues are presented as significant to the nation and future, as well as to a few impassioned individuals (who may also happen to be constituents)
Volume. Persistence. Personal connection.

Get Smart! Sign up for NAGC's Legislative Action Network to find out about advocating for gifted children, locally but with national intent.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding post! Although my state (PA) mandates gifted ed, there is no funding from the state. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Pa Asso for Gifted Ed (PAGE), we have much stronger guidelines in place to support gifted students.

    I couldn't agree with you more that we must all become more active at the state level if we are ever to see improved standards for gifted ed.