In addition to Dr. Carol Dweck's brilliant keynote address regarding the dumbest thing you can say to a smart child, last month's NYC Gifted and Talented Symposium also highlighted several groups working to insure that all of New York's children receive an appropriate education.
One of those groups is New York State's AGATE (Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education).
In response to questions from the NY Gifted Education Examiner, AGATE's President, Mary Kay Lewis, shared the following about her organization, its past achievements and its future objectives:
AGATE does not lobby; we educate and advocate per our mission. AGATE has no paid staff; but rather, we are all volunteers. AGATE is composed of passionate parents, teachers, administrators, consultants, professors, and individuals in all professions who share the idea that our state should be investing in developing the potential of its diverse students of all demographics--including those capable of the highest contribution in every field. In addition to our state-level advocacy work, AGATE also attempts to provide support for parents and others throughout the state when they or their institutions need help in regard to high-ability students and their issues. For example, last year AGATE tried to help parents in an excellent but beleaguered G&T program in Queens.
As you are all quite aware, our educational system is in crisis. It is obvious that the one-size-fits-all high-stakes testing paradigm has failed. In the face of these challenges, New York State has the potential to shift to a more positive paradigm of education and to lead the way for the rest of the country while finally providing a more equitable education for our diverse children. We parents, teachers, administrators, and advocates at all levels can help.
New York State's greatest natural resource is optimizing and actualizing the potential of diverse students throughout the state via using the proven strategies and tools from G&T education to help every student in every demographic (including those currently under-served) to identify his or her interests, skills, and talents and then to actualize them with best-practices and trained support at every level. Our entire state will benefit if NY State can more equitably educate all students--including those with the highest potential from all demographics--as Dr. Renzulli of NRC/GT said, "A rising tide lifts all ships".
OPPORTUNITY FOR COLLABORATION
We at AGATE are working hard to educate, advocate, and collaborate such that not only our diverse individual children benefit, but also our hardworking parents, teachers, administrators, communities, and our whole state will benefit if our state invests in developing the talent of all its diverse students. We currently have, and are educating people about, bipartisan legislation in the State Senate and State Assembly (/ A1522-2013, S1874-2013 / A1524-2013 and S3389-2013 / A4745-2013)!
AGATE has also been working with key policymakers in the legislative branch; unions and professional organizations like NYSUT (in 2012 with Resolution #20, our state's teacher's union resolved to support G&T education, training, etc. in NYS!), SAANYS (principals!), and NYCOSS (superintendents!); the administrative branch of NY State, NYSED, including meeting last year with Commissioner King and his Assistant Commissioners; the legislative relations people at CUNY and SUNY, and other trade and business organizations in NYS.
AGATE has an appointment to meet with the Governor's policy, counsel, and department of budgets people on November 19th and we also hope to meet with the Regents. Right now there is a great need for collaboration and everyone doing as much as they can in their own lives via networking and speaking with everyone you know about the need for our state to invest in optimizing the potential of every diverse child in the state.
Jen Seron, AGATE's Legislative Co-Chair, who is based in New York City adds to the above, "As Legislative Co-Chair and a NYC parent, I would love to speak with you or your PTA, school, or group about legislative issues. I am especially interested in your experiences and specific suggestions and insights into how AGATE could best support the needs of NYC children, families, teachers, administrators, and schools through our state-level advocacy. Together we can help our state by helping our diverse children to optimize their potential."
If you would like to contribute to AGATE's mission or invite Jen to speak to your group, visit their website for more information.