During this month of March, we at the WI Association for Talented and Gifted are working especially hard to promote advocacy for gifted education, and for our gifted students. Advocacy is defined as the act of speaking on the behalf of, or in support of another person, place, or thing, and in this article, we will be sharing ways that we are advocating, and that you too can be an advocate for gifted education, and for gifted kids, whether your own or others’. Advocacy happens at so many levels.
On a national level, at this writing, three WATG Board members, Past Presidents Cathy Schmit and Deb Kucek, and President-Elect Hillarie Roth are preparing for a visit to the National Association for Gifted Children’s 2020 Leadership and Advocacy Conference, followed by an advocacy mission to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to lobby for gifted education and our students. At the NAGC, they will work together with affiliates from other states, and learn how to effectively lobby for legislation and funding. They will then use this knowledge as they meet with legislators and aides. Please keep them in your thoughts as they speak on behalf of our children. We thank them for their critical work, and are looking forward to their report at the conclusion of their visit.
At the state level, we are pleased to report that our Government Action Committee at WATG has filed a request for a legislative study on gifted education in Wisconsin. Though we will not hear about the status of this request until spring, we are pleased with the message of advocacy, and the bipartisan support of legislators for this request. Again, thank you to all who have worked tirelessly on this initiative. Please stay tuned!
At the local level and personal level, many of you often email us at WATG about advocating for things related to gifted education. In fact, advocacy for your child/ren and gifted programming services are your top concerns. Below are some tips that we often share with parents as they request help in advocating:
Finally, one of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them to advocate for themselves and their learning. Most often this should begin in the middle school years, with the budding adolescent learning to advocate for himself/herself. Deb Douglas, Past President of WATG, has written a wonderfully helpful book entitled, The Power of Self-Advocacy for Gifted Learners: Teaching the Four Essential Steps to Success (Grades 5–12). Deb’s four steps include helping gifted kids to understand their rights and responsibilities, develop their learning profile, investigate available options and opportunities, and connect with other advocates.
So often, many of us in gifted education have found that when we teach and trust children to advocate and problem-solve for themselves, they invariably solve in more creative and satisfactory ways than we had imagined. And when we ALL work together to advocate at any level, truly amazing things can happen!