If we hadn’t said anything, I’m not sure anything would have changed that year. We had been accepting of whatever we were told by the teacher. My son was quiet and polite. He wasn’t acting out, but I didn’t want to risk losing his love of learning.
If we didn’t speak up, who would?
What I learned from that first experience, and many more like it, is that I need to speak up sooner than later. I can’t assume that others know a problem exists. I can’t rely on others to speak up for the needs of my gifted kids. And if I can find others who are having a similar experience, I have to add my voice to theirs to improve our chances of being heard.
My family’s story is not unusual by any means. Advocacy stories are happening daily in classrooms and administration offices and school board meetings across the state. The situation with my son and his teacher was eventually resolved, but not without some struggle. Fortunately, as I learned of other gifted kids in his school, I was able to join with their parents to get the needs of more kids met at our school and in our district. But somehow, that wasn’t enough.
A few years ago I visited the state Capitol with a handful of gifted education advocates. We met in legislative offices to talk about gifted education. I admit I was taken by surprise. It seemed as if our legislators hadn’t heard from gifted education advocates in quite a while. What it came down to was they didn’t know what gifted kids needed or why gifted education was important because we hadn’t told them! We came away realizing that this was either a really big problem or a great opportunity.
In my opinion, what distinguishes advocates from those who quietly accept the status quo is that advocates see this situation as a great opportunity. And I invite you to take advantage of this great opportunity. Now is the time for you to share your story with your legislators! On March 14 WATG is hosting a day to advocate in Madison. Raise Your Voice for Gifted Kids is for educators, parents, and gifted students in middle school, high school or even college – anyone who supports our efforts to raise awareness about the needs of gifted in Wisconsin. Made possible in part by a grant from NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children), our hope is to initiate conversations and begin to build relationships in as many state assembly and state senate districts as possible so we can increase the awareness of the needs of gifted in Wisconsin.
Please join us on March 14. Registration closes on March 5.
If you don’t speak up, who will?