Back-to-School: A New Year of Advocacy
With the school year rapidly approaching for most students, and perhaps already underway for others, now is a good time to plan for a new year of effective advocacy for our gifted students. Rather than being caught off guard or surprised by what modifications may or may not be found in the student’s educational program, parents, teachers, and students can be well informed and prepared to be effective advocates as the new school year unfolds. Because we don’t want students to be invisible or for schools to be obstacles for highly creative, achieving, or intelligent students, it is prudent to plan ahead.
Advocacy is a means of motivating decision makers to provide those resources or acquire the understanding necessary to provide appropriate education for gifted students. Advocacy can occur individually one-on-one, instructionally, systemically, through policy, and through attitudinal change within the community.
Plan to take on the characteristics of an effective advocate. You must be well-informed on your topics, respectful of other points of view, quietly persistent, sincere, imaginative, resourceful, politically aware, tactful, enthusiastic, well-organized, articulate, and sensitive to others’ reactions. You can do it!
Be knowledgeable about what policies and laws relate to the students’ education, both within schools and systems, and within districts, states, and the nation. The U.S. government neither mandates services nor funds district education programs, but there might be regulations at your state or local level. State laws vary widely from state to state. Then get to know and communicate regularly with teachers interested in gifted education, your school administrators, gifted program coordinators, and other parents of gifted children in your community. Become an active participant with the school board, attending meetings and serving on committees.
Join local, state, and national gifted organizations. Form or join a local parent advocacy group. Decide what you want to accomplish; decide who can help you reach your goals. Then evaluate your chances of success; develop a timeline, and plan your campaign.
There are numerous resources available and accessible to answer any of the questions guiding your preparation phase and there are numerous types of associations to support you in your goals. If we all work together as effective advocates for this population of students, we can accomplish all our goals to make sure these students receive the services, support, and nurturance they need.
Happy new year!
All the best,