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Full text of "ERIC EJ684156: Using Their Words to Support Our Advocacy Efforts. Advocacy"

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Sandra N. Kaplan, Ed.D. 

Using Their Words to Support 
Our Advocacy Efforts 

I t is not difficult in today s political climate to understand that good cam- 
paigning is redefining the common language of the times for your own 
political benefits. There are common threads that weave through politi- 
cal arguments. These common threads are the terms and phrases that take 
on different meaning for each candidate. They entice the populace because 
the rhetoric is familiar. They also direct attention to the candidates and their 
platform. This process is working for politicians, and it can work for educa- 
tors of the gifted, too. We can build our advocacy efforts on the common 
language used by policymakers in general education to the advantage of 
gifted education. 

They are talking about “social justice.” We can 
use their term to advocate on behalf of gifted stu- 
dents. Currently, the literature is replete with the need 
to make decisions for students and design educational 
opportunities that are founded on the concept of 
social justice. The opportunities for gifted students 
need to be underscored by the same ethic. The appli- 
cation of social justice cannot be used to justify edu- 
cational opportunities for some students without also 
being applied as a criterion to support the education 
of gifted students and the programs that serve them. 

They are talking about “the achievement gap.” 
We can use their term to advocate on behalf of gifted 
students. Educators of the gifted can describe the exis- 
tence of the achievement gap within the gifted popu- 
lation as a consequence of the academic, linguistic, 
economic, and culture diversity in the group. We can 
address the issue that the achievement gap within the 
gifted population has the same deleterious conse- 
quences as the achievement gap between successful 

and unsuccessful students in the general education 
population. Most importantly, we need to emphasize 
that the achievement gap within the gifted population 
is a result of students who do and do not have access 
to a well-defined set of services that support the recog- 
nition and translation of their potential into perfor- 
mance. The achievement gap within the gifted 
population is the outcome of a lack of gifted programs 
and the insufficient professional development to pro- 
vide teachers with the understanding and competen- 
cies that promote appropriate and quality educational 
services for gifted students. 

They are talking about “the democratic class- 
room.” We can use their term to advocate on behalf 
of gifted students. The democratic classroom is the 
setting where students live, so to speak, and are taught 
the percepts of democracy as they learn and work 
together. A democratic classroom setting is one where 
students are taught to respect individual differences. A 
continued on page 65 


Au Contraire 

continued from page 15 
antigifted policymakers who are always 
looking for ways of minimizing or elim- 
inating services to students with special 
needs” (Renzulli, 2004, p. 67). 

“Research” can lead us anywhere, 
and one’s interpretation of specific find- 
ings seems as legitimate as another per- 
son’s view. It’s time to recognize this and 


continued from page 27 
Amazing Grace; White Socks Only; 
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible 
Ear; Another Way to Dance). 

• Share personal experiences with 
your child about how you overcame 
social injustices. Your objective is to 
instill hope in your child. 

• Talk to your child about the true 
meaning of friendship. Many stu- 
dents are so eager to have compan- 
ionship that they affiliate with 
classmates without regard to their 
character, integrity, and goals. 

• Be forthright in acknowledging that 
diverse students may exert negative 


continued from page 59 
democratic classroom environment is 
one where all students are provided with 
the right to learn. Such a classroom must 
consider the unique and differential 
needs, interests, and abilities of all stu- 
dents, and this includes the needs, inter- 
ests, and abilities of gifted students. 

They are talking about “account- 
ability.” We can use their term to advo- 
cate on behalf of gifted students. While 
the major emphasis of the discussion 
related to accountability focuses on the 
outcomes of teaching and learning, we 
need to redefine the term so it includes 
moral accountability or the need to 
make educators and policymakers 

return to the basics: educating gifted 
children in ways that would make Leta 
Hollingworth applaud in praise, rather 
than shake her head in disappointment. 

Q: Any last thoughts? 

Just one: When you find the emperor is 
naked, say so. ©©? 

peer pressures on your child (e.g. 
accuse your child of “acting 
White”). This is another form of 
discrimination that cannot be 

• Talk with your child about being 
assertive at initiating discussions 
with classmates. 

• Above all else, don’t lose hope or 
faith. Be conscious, deliberate, con- 
sistent, and systematic in advocating 
for your child. 

Not much has been written about 
“parenting culturally diverse gifted stu- 
dents.” However, some scholars have 
written books on parenting diverse chil- 

accountable for their decisions and the 
outcomes commensurate to these deci- 
sions. Provocative questions that ask 
why and how decisions are made con- 
cerning the education of the gifted is a 
form of moral accountability that we, as 
advocates for the gifted, must bring to 
the attention of others. 

They are talking about “academic 
rigor.” We can use their term to advocate 
on behalf of gifted students. Historically, 
the drive to identify the dimensions of 
academic rigor and implement academi- 
cally rigorous curricula have been associ- 
ated with educators of the gifted and 
gifted education. We need to provide the 
background and the direction for acade- 


Renzulli, J. (2004). Expanding the 
umbrella: An interview with Joseph 
Renzulli. Roeper Review, 26, 65-67. 

Silverman, L. S. (2001). This issue hon- 
ors Annemarie Roeper — a gifted 
teacher and teacher of the gifted. 
Roeper Review, 23, 188. 

dren that might be a helpful resource. 
Books on helping children cope with 
peer pressures may also offer insights 
and suggestions. Several of the above 
suggestions were borrowed from strate- 
gies my mother adopted as she faced the 
forced choice of placing me in schools 
where I did not have to sacrifice achieve- 
ment or social relationships. 

All of us — parents, educators, and 
others — must take a vested interest in 
and be proactive in nurturing culturally 
diverse gifted students. We must work 
together as if our collective future 
depends on it — because it does. ©©? 

mic rigor as the topic is addressed 
among educators and policymakers. 
Others need to understand how gifted 
education can and does contribute to 
general education. 

There always has been discussion 
about the negatives and positives of edu- 
cationalese, the language coined by edu- 
cators to describe and promote 
intentions and directions in education. 
Advocates of gifted education need to 
use the current educational jargon to 
draft their advocacy efforts. Redefining 
the common language for the common 
good of gifted students is the challenge 
and demand of today’s educational polit- 
ical climate. {§©?