Gifted Advocacy Is In Pathetic Shape
dvocacy for gifted kids and their education is in pathetic shape, plain and simple. There’s no way to dress it up or pretend otherwise. And how did I come to this conclusion? A little background…
For the last month I’ve been wracking my brain on what an appropriate first topic for this blog could possibly be. After all, it’s the first topic we ever cover, and we’ll never get another shot at it. So it should mean something, right? I certainly hope so, at least.
In the course of building the website, I was working on putting together the directory, and more specifically the Giftedness Resources section. Things were going along okay until I got to the Giftedness State Associations page. And that’s when it started to fall apart.
You would think it would be a simple enough task: 50 states, so there should be 50 state associations, right? Wrong. There are only 43. That’s seven states (plus the District of Columbia, of course) with absolutely no organized advocacy for gifted kids whatsoever. None. And if their websites are any indication, there are a whole lot more where the organization exists in name only.
Take, for example, the West Virginia Association for the Gifted and Talented. Now, not everyone is a professional web designer or can afford the services of one, so I’m going to resist the temptation to take cheap shots here.
What is far more disconcerting to me is that, according to their membership page, members can expect to get a newsletter and be updated about state legislation. That’s it. No calls to action. No meetings to discuss best methods. Nope. Whatever’s getting done – and there’s no way to tell if anything indeed is – will be done without your input or foreknowledge, thank you very much. We’ll tell you about it whenever we get around to it, because the membership page doesn’t even say how often the newsletter is published – and since the website doesn’t include a recent copy, we have no idea if it’s still being published at all.
Now I don’t mean to pick on West Virginia here, it’s only one of many examples of what passes for a statewide gifted advocacy program nationwide. There are a few which seem to be active, but only a handful. A significant fraction haven’t updated their websites for years, so who knows if they’re even still around.
But at the end of the day, who cares? I mean, really. So there aren’t but a handful of functional advocacy groups for the gifted and talented across the United States. So what? Well, there are about 3 million gifted kids in the United States. 3 million. And who is speaking for them at the local school board budget meetings? Who is speaking for them in the state legislatures? In the halls of Congress? Evidently very few people are. And those who are, seem to be having a devil of a time getting themselves organized.
What does that mean? It means that if you are the parent of a gifted child, you are not going to be able to leave it up to somebody else to advocate for them. If you don’t do it, the odds are that there simply is no one else who will. You’re in the same boat as the parents of the rest of those 3 million gifted kids, and one of the purposes of this website to help you get connected and combine your efforts.
In future posts, we’ll talk about what effective advocacy for your child looks like as well as what kind of obstacles you can expect to find in your way. Don’t worry though. We’ll find a way through this together, but it was important that we start off by acknowledging the truth about where things stand right now and what you’re up against.