Advocating for Gifted Learners

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Advocating for Gifted Learners

FROM THE EDITOR

Advocacy?!Everything we do is advocacy.Why do we need a special issue on advocacy? That’s what ran through my mind when the Board of Directors of the California Association for the Gifted voted to make “advocacy” the theme of its 2010 annual conference and, also, a year-long effort. The answer, of course, is simple. Gifted education programs in California and across the nation are in danger of not merely being scaled back but disappearing altogether. As advocacy leaders, we must provide the facts  and arguments that supporters can take with them as they speak to the decision makers—be they local, state, or national—to persuade those decision-makers of the necessity of providing gifted children with education that fits their needs—to the ultimate benefit of the children, the nation, and society. We know that parents are vital in the effort to keep gifted education programs alive and serving gifted children. This issue provides several articles useful to parents in that effort, starting with our lead feature written by parent Judy Smith, “The Important Parent Role in Local Advocacy.” Recognizing that local schools are the first priority of parents, Smith provides guidelines and suggestions for working with other parents and local school officials to ensure appropriate service for their gifted children. Sandra Kaplan proposes that students be taught to be their own advocates as part of an exemplary gifted program, commenting “The art of advocacy should be included as an integral feature of a gifted program.” Through it students can learn not only to advocate on their own behalf but on behalf of “social issues that transcend the need for gifted education.” She presents specific recommendations for the content of a “self-advocacy” program in her article, “Developing Gifted Students as Advocates.” Martha Flournoy and Teri Burns, longtime advocates of gifted programs at the state level, share “Advocacy for Gifted Children in an Age of Decreasing Budgets: A California Perspective.”Their practical and specific recommendations are useful not only to California readers but to all others in similar circumstances—which currently means most of the nation.
For a national viewpoint,Jane Clarenbach, Director of Publication for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), offers “Advocating for a Difference.” Her comments, combined with the executive summary of the “State of the Nation In Gifted Education,” will help readers recognize the common obstacles all states are facing in the struggle to provide educational services appropriate for gifted learners.The State of the Nation document can befound on the NAGC website at nagc.org. Judith Roseberry, another long-time advocate and also a cofounder  of the California Foundation for Gifted Education, presents more recommendations especially for parents in her article “Building Advocacy at Home and at School.” She particularly emphasizes the partnership necessary between home and school and the need for parents to be genuinely supportive of education in order to be effective advocates for their children. Dana Reupert, current president of the California Association for the Gifted, presents an administrator’s view of advocacy in her article, “Promoting Advocacy for Gifted Learners: A School Administrator’s Point of View.” She brings together a number of resources useful to administrators in making sure that their schools provide the best possible environments for gifted learners along with all learners. She especially elaborates on her motto of being “positive, proactive, pleasant, persevering, and productive.”
Finally, Nancy Green, Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children, gives us pointers in “Using the Media to Expand Your Impact.” She includes a number of Do’s and Don’ts to guide you as you prepare your media presentations.We have also included a list of “Common Gifted Education Myths” prepared by NAGC; it can be found on its website, nagc.org.  On a personal note, we are bidding a fond farewell to Jennifer Beaver who has served as the Associate Editor for Parent Topics and provided most of the “Student Voices” columns over the years. With her son now in college, Jennifer is ready to move on to other interests. But she promises to be available for special topics and has written her final column to encourage other parents to keep up the good fight so necessary for gifted children to thrive. Thank you, Jennifer, for your many insights, journal contributions, and good humor in support of the success of this journal.
I would also like to thank the National Association for Gifted Children for its generous assistance in providing articles and resources for this issue and allowing us to reprint some of them. Please check their website for even more resources for both parents and educators. Best wishes in your efforts for gifted children during the last quarter of the school year. We will be back in the summer with a topic of ever-continuing concern to parents and educators: social and emotional issues pertaining to gifted learners.
—Margaret Gosfield