Last week, I was invited to go to the State Capital in Montgomery as the Community Liaison for the Alabama Association for Gifted Children (AAGC), with Amy Waine (AAGC President), Audrey Fine (Immediate Past AAGC President) and Patti Wood (AAGC Board Member) to meet with legislators about gifted education across the state of Alabama.
Our purpose was to talk with legislators about the needs, both academically and emotionally, of gifted students and request an increase in gifted education funding in the state.
We met with State Representatives and Policy makers – Rep. McClurkin, Vice Chair of the Education Means and Ways Committee, along with Boone Kinard, policy analyst for Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, and several who we spoke with, in passing, in the hallways.
All-in-all, it felt like a decent day. No guarantees were made (there is an entire process that these things have to go through, after all), but we felt heard and listened to.
On the way home from our meeting, Patti came across this article that pointed to studies that stated that the highest achievers “have become an ‘afterthought'”:
A survey from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute asked teachers which students were most likely to get one-on-one attention. More than 80 percent in 2008 said struggling students would get more attention, while only 5 percent said advanced students would. “We’re in an extended period where gifted kids are an afterthought at best,” Smarick says. These students are at risk for dropping out of school if they are not challenged enough, he adds.
A 2011 Fordham Institute study found that between 30 and 50 percent of advanced students descend and no longer achieve at the most advanced levels.
This came on the heels of this 30-year Vanderbilt study backing up the same thing.
Nationally, we are failing our gifted children.
I remember talking with Randy after a very difficult meeting with the school. I was frustrated and I hurt for my child. But, as I was crying, I realized that this issue is so much bigger than me… and us… and the needs of our own children. I’m proud of my kids, and the way they carry themselves, and for the fact that they are confident enough to speak up for themselves, but not all children, nor their parents, have found their voice, and so often, the voices of children are ignored anyway…
So I want to lend my voice.
We all have our moments of clarity when we come face-to-face with our own ‘the right thing to do’, and it was through those tears that I committed to being more active and proactive in shedding light on the social, emotional and educational needs of gifted children.
This isn’t about elitism — ALL children deserve an appropriate education, and too many children who fall outside of ‘the norm’ aren’t receiving the education that they need, or deserve.
My meeting with the legislators was a small step, but it was a step. We need many more steps to be taken, and we need many others to take those steps.
What you can do to help support gifted education:
Want to lend your voice, but aren’t sure where to start?
- Speak with your local school board and learn their policies regarding gifted education.
- Research gifted programs in other school districts. Gifted programs look different from district-to-district and state-to-state. Ask around and find out what is working and what isn’t.
- Speak with your legislators. Call their office, email them, Tweet to them or go to your state capital and meet with them in person (if you are in Alabama, I’m happy to try to meet you in Montgomery, and speak with them with you). Know what you are asking for and make your voice heard.
- Join and support groups like NAGC, SENG, and any local or state groups. See if there are any local parent groups that have formed, or start one yourself.
- Share your own stories with others – blog about it, Tweet in chats such such as #gtchat etc.
- Read as much as you can on gifted education, emotional/social needs, studies, events, changes to laws etc (*our weekly Gifted News & Resources, which includes articles, resource and updates from around the internet, the US and the world is a great place to start)
You might be interested in the following LTLF posts as well:
13 Tips for Advocating for Your Child (or how to become “that parent”)
Advocating for Gifted Children: How I Became “That Parent”
Facebook and Gifted Education (Gifted groups on Facebook)
Using Social Media To Advocate for the Gifted