As current events surrounding racial justice unfolded in our nation, the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted Board of Directors, on June 5, 2020, united with this public statement: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” (Maya Angelou). “As our nation faces the grave consequences of long standing and systemic racism, The Wisconsin Association for Talented and gifted remains committed to equity and justice for all. As an organization, we are cognizant of the inequities in identification and educational programming for gifted students of color. As always, we are dedicated to examining and rectifying these discrepancies. We pledge to do our part to dismantle structural and institutional racism. We invite partnerships with other institutions, groups, and individuals to share conversations about the impacts of race, and will work to listen, learn, and support each other in this critical process of changing our world.”
As an affiliate of NAGC.org, the National Association for Gifted Children, the Board of Directors of WATG supports their public statement, NAGC Denounces Racism and Stands for Social Justice, and mirrors their call for action: “We must do our part to confront systemic and institutional racism. Action is being taken now on collecting and developing resources that address the issues of racism and racial injustice for gifted students. Plans are also being developed with the Board of Directors on additional actions NAGC can take to further address issues of social justice, underserved populations, and supporting Black gifted students and scholars.“
In both vision and mission, WATG and NAGC share common goals, shared vision and shared mission. However, now the time has come to support our words with action, and WATG is committed to shared further action.
To give you an idea of some of the steps WATG has taken in the past, and some recommendations for the present and future, please refer to our,NEWS FROM THE BOARD article of December 2019 entitled “Equity and Excellence.” As a Board, we recognize that our work is ongoing, and will never be completely done. We are grateful for the opportunity to grow. Here are some of the steps that we are committed to taking in the present and future to help us grow:
First, WATG continues to take deliberate steps to share resources that address the issues of racism and racial injustice. During the month of June, on our Facebook page, we shared lists of resources to encourage conversations about these topics. Here are some of the links:
Books to Help Kids Talk About Racism,
20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good
We also suggested, for adults, resources to begin discussions about race, racism, and social justice. Some of the resources featured included:
Stamped From the Beginning,
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,
Just Mercy, and
Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century
While we realize that there are many more resources specifically targeting the conversations around gifted individuals and social justice, these resources offer ways to encourage the critical and difficult conversations that underpin the work that must be done. We will continue to share resources that support doing our part in gifted education, and we invite you to do the same. If something moves you and speaks to your heart, please share it with us. If some research becomes available, if some injustice is uncovered, if some group or individual exemplifies best practice in social justice, please share it with us. We are called to act together.
At this writing, we at WATG are currently in the process of planning our Annual Fall Conference, though this year it will be a virtual conference offered on October 19th and 20th, 2020. Our theme this year is, “Hands On, Minds On: Now More Than Ever,” and our keynote speakers are Dr. Marcia Gentry and Dr. Brian Housand. Dr. Gentry’s keynote, “Equity in Wisconsin” will address our state report cards concerning access, equity, and “missingness” in gifted education. Her findings are timely, important, and matter to students from underserved groups and their educators. Dr. Housand’s keynote, “Where Do We Go From Here? Charting the Course Ahead for Gifted Education” will identify some of gifted education’s greatest challenges, and reexamine them as opportunities for growth. He will explore a roadmap of ways to reverse the long history of underrepresented populations in gifted programs, outline strategies for developing more critical consumers of information and media, and develop meaningful learning experiences designed to challenge gifted students in a variety of learning environments. We are currently finalizing our lineup of breakout sessions, some of which will address racism and injustice in gifted education, so expect much food for thought, and much opportunity for action. Our goal is to stimulate and activate our conference attendees!
Finally, as we at WATG further our mission to raise public awareness about the unique needs of gifted individuals, we vow to remain vigilant in pursuing social justice for all so that our work reflects sensitivity, passion, and commitment. We welcome your help, your calling us to task, your commitment to having difficult conversations, and your willingness to support us in our efforts. We welcome learning and growing together, for it’s only when we share vision, mission, and action that real and lasting change happens.