Effective advocacy is more than being passionate about gifted education. An effective advocate knows how to convey the message that needs to be heard and knows how to frame information in a manner that drives the point without alienating those who influence the decision-making process.
The following links will provide helpful guidance for gifted education advocacy and public education policy:
- Effective Advocates is a collection of articles by Dr. Julia Link Roberts and Tracie Ford Inman and provides tips on how to plan for advocacy and how to craft your message and communicate effectively.
- A Checklist for Advocating with Public Policy Makers includes useful tips and reminders about what you should and should not do when advocating for gifted education.
- Supporting Gifted Education Through Advocacy outlines the importance of effective nurturing of giftedness in children and adolescents through a cooperative partnership between home and school, one that is characterized by mutual respect and an ongoing sharing of ideas and observations about the children involved.
- Advocating for Appropriate Education for Your Child is one of the most informative and detailed guides for parents of gifted children when dealing with teachers and administrators in the public schools. It provides a very positive approach to being a good advocate for your child so that you can create a win-win situation.
- Starting and Sustaining a Parent Group to Support Gifted Children is a publication of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and provides an excellent guide for parents interested in working cooperatively to support gifted education in a local community through the formation of a parent group.
- Why Establish Parent Support Groups for the Gifted? provides a rationale for the formation of a parent support group, using direct quotes for Texas law and education code.
- What Makes a Parent Group Successful? provides detailed elements of a successful parent group and includes activities that will benefit parents and the school community.
Texas Education Agency
State Definition of Gifted: “‘[G]ifted and talented student’ means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment and who:
- exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative or artistic area;
- possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
- excels in a specific academic field.”
(Texas Education Code Ann. § 29.121)
ESTUDIOS, A J.K. Javits Grant Program
15 DOs and DON’Ts of Advocacy
DO: prepare yourself for an appointment; be clear and specific about the purpose of your meeting, introduce yourself and/or your group, and leave materials relevant to the issue.
DO: be punctual, and be willing to wait for a person who runs behind schedule.
DO: keep letters and visits short and to the point.
DO: be accurate and authentic with supporting facts – document resources.
DO: be pleasant and polite.
DO: be aware that issues have two sides—yours and that of the opposition. Be the first to acknowledge an opposing viewpoint.
DO: support officials with positive visibility on behalf of the special needs of gifted children.
DO: ask for a response to keep communication going.
DO: follow-up with a thank-you note, phone call, e-mail, an appointment, a letter, vote, etc.
DON’T: be disappointed if you don’t accomplish your purpose on the first visit; change is a slow process and involves a relationship built over time.
DON’T: make your issue complicated. This person likely must deal with several important matters simultaneously and will be more attentive if you keep your points short and simple.
DON’T: ever be belligerent or threatening. Consider opposing viewpoints, even if you DON’T share them. Conflict closes communication.
DON’T: be late for an appointment. Lack of respect for other people’s time is rude.
DON’T: forget other staff members in your thank-you cards. Staff members often know as much or more about an issue than a legislator or administrator AND can get to him/her easier and more often than you can.
DON’T quit! Persistence and perseverance eventually pay off.
Adapted from an article by Gina Ginsberg Riggs, copyright 1984.