So, all of us need to contact the gen-
eral public and the state and federal
governments, especially the state
legislators. With a new Congress in
Washington DC and a new Legislation
in Austin, there is no better time to
get our message to these very impor-
tant people. What can we do?
- Most important is to con-
tact your own state senators
and representatives via personal
contact, telephone, letter, fax, or
e-rnail and ask them to specifi-
cally support gifted and talented
education by passing and fund-
ing legislation to 1] require state
certification exams of Gifted and
Talented teachers, and 2] that
all identified gifted and talented
students be taught by state certi-
fied gifted and talented teachers.
3] Place an emphasis on finding
these gifted kids at the beginning
of elementary school. BE SURE
TO ALWAYS ASK FOR THESE
SPECIFIC ACTIONS. To find all
of your legislators click here, then [Ist] select your "State"
and [2nd] select "Legislator;'
then click on "Legislature Links:'
There you will find all the sena-
tors and representatives and their
addresses, telephone numbers,
and e-rnail links.
- Contact your local school dis-
trict superintendent and request
these same actions.
- Write to your local newspaper
education reporters, and letters-
to-the-editor expressing your
concerns about gifted education.
- Call local radio talkshows to
express your concerns.
- For more detailed help, con-
tact the National Association for
Gifted Children and click on "Advocacy
& Legislation;' then "Toolkit:'
Also contact your state Gifted and
Talent organization at this same
Web site by clicking on "State by
Be aware that a few individual
names may be out of date, but you can
Google your state association shown
and find the latest contacts in your
state. We need to do this now while
all of these politicians are getting their
In order to get a gauge of what
it was the lawmakers in Texas and
in Washington thought about gifted
education, the idea for this article
started in April 2008 when I first sent
a type written letter on my personal
stationery to President Bush.
I followed that up with same
typed written letter, only personally
addressed to every federal lawmaker
from Texas that represents my dis-
trict in any way. I wrote the same
thing to all of the top state lawmakers
and many from other districts who
are on various education committees
in Austin. I got written responses
from all the federal politicians except
from the White House.Texas Lt. Governor
Dewhurst's office called to ask me
some questions. All the responses
were very polite but each reflected
only their own policies on education.
None indicated any real understanding of
gifted and talented issues and only
mentioned it as a throw-in phrase
when talking about "No Child Left
Behind” or “Race To The Top”. However, the State Senator
and the District State Representative
in my own district, both wrote letters
to Texas Education Agency (TEA)
asking them to respond to my let-
ter. Both duly wrote me again after-
ward. But at least now they knew of
the gifted education situation and
they were now also aware of TEA's
current policy on it. Of course I was
advised of the current state policy
on education which I already knew.
The salient result of this exercise was
clear; that we will get more attention
and involvement from the lawmakers
in our own districts because ... you
guessed it... they need your vote. A
few gifted education advocates, and
that includes all gifted education
teachers, administrators, parents
and advocates, will only make a very
small impact. We need a broad "grass
roots" advocacy. That is from where
my "tree" analogy was derived.
It will not be easy and we have a
long way to go. From an early draft of
this article, Roxanna Cramer wrote,
"From another choir member: A
good article, but unfortunately the
timing is bad. Gifted kids have never
been sympathetic "poster children;'
especially in comparison with handi-
capped kids. And in this time of eco-
nomic downturn, chances of getting
more attention focused on gifted kids
is practically nil. Science and math
stand a chance, but nobody can see
the symphony uncomposed or the
novel unwritten …” I love Roxanna's comment
and I'm sure most music and language
arts teachers do too.
I found a 14-year- old boy in ISS (In School Suspension)
for refusing to do his class work. In
talking with the boy and his father
I found the kid read War and Peace when he was 10.
He wants to be a writer and has taught himself Greek
We have a long way to go. From an assistant principal
in my own district I received the following message: "Why did you send
me this obnoxious article?" From
another "unsigned;' "I didn't realize
that 'gifted' meant being educational
So you see, it will not be easy,
however, that is no reason not to try,
especially considering the value of the
commodity we are dealing with.
In June 2008, I released my unac-
knowledged letter to President Bush
as an open letter. I am the first to
admit he had other very serious prob-
lems to deal with. It was published by
Education News and is still floating around the internet.
The misunderstanding about
gifted and talented education is wide-
spread. A public school administrator
in Maryland said "three-fourths of all
of our students are gifted:' Another,
who I will identify, as she posted this
response on the Internet, is Jamie
Ruppmann who wrote, "I believe that
all our children should be provided
the support and education that they
need. That is why I have spent many
years as an educational advocate. I am
always discouraged, then, when I read
editorial offerings and letters suggest-
ing that by addressing the needs of one
group of youngsters, we are necessar-
ily and inevitably short changing or
harming another group. Child advo-
cacy has never been, and should not
be, some sort of competition for "our
energy and resources:' In fact, our
nation has the resources and energy
it needs to put all children "first:'
Unfortunately, Dick Kantenberger
continues to insist that gifted chil-
dren (and in my school district that
is just about everyone) are worthy of
the resources they need …”
The problem of course is that this well meaning writer and millions just like her don’t understand that gifted children are at risk and highly vulnerable if not found and provided with a gifted education.
A bit more far out is an unsigned person in New
Hampshire who said "Get the govern-
ment out of education, they have no
business:' I wonder who funds public
education in New Hampshire!
This article, Part 3, will conclude next week.
The original article was published in Tempo Magazine in February 2009
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National Gifted Education Writer, Examiner.com
Houston, TX 77024-4026