Gift of Effective Education Advocacy for Thinking Parents, Kids, Homeschoolers Too

27 09 2007

Through the National Home Education Network, homeschool advocates collaborated on a handy-dandy legislative advocacy self-education project, lessons gleaned from our real efforts and experiences in the public square:

“Home Education on the Legislative Stage:
Wisdom Gleaned from the NHEN Legislative List”

It’s still great stuff imo. AND, now from “Unwrapping the Gifted” comes similarly practical, proven education advocacy advice from the schooling side of child-led education change. I’m thinking we all — schooling or not, gifted or not — 😉 — can learn a thing or two from these excerpts:

My goal today is to offer some hope and some strategies.
Wherever you are, and no matter the laws and policies that may govern your state/locale, there are little things we can each do that can add up to make a big difference.

Thus began my struggle to find ways to effectively advocate for my charges, gain appropriate accommodations for them, and do so all without rocking the boat and sinking it again.

. . . I learned the hard way that sinking it doesn’t do anyone involved any good – and the goal gets lost in the depths.

Suggested strategy #1: Observe. Rather than pound down the front door and force your way in, sneak in the back door and simply sit and observe for awhile. In the meantime, your presence will become part of the fabric, part of the scenery, part of the norm.

Observe the culture – not just the “school culture,” but also the broader culture of the community, county, state. . . search for answers to questions such as these: How does change happen here? What philosophies drive the people to do what they do, think what they think, and resist what they resist? Who is really in charge? Where do you see glimmers of hope? Which little piece can you change easily? And then go from there.

Suggested strategy #2: Subtle blitz. . . a “food for thought” campaign. About every three weeks, I put a little something into everyone’s mailboxes to gently encourage some reflection or thinking about gifted students. . . . keep in mind that not everyone may appreciate it at first.

Suggested strategy #3: Take advantage of good opportunities when they come along. . . Is an opportunity knocking on your door? Then go for it!

Suggested strategy #4: Teach the gifted child(ren) in your life how to self-advocate.

The child speaking up and asking for challenging accommodations is much more powerful than a GT specialist or a parent doing it. And over time, the more kids who speak up to the teachers about a need for more challenging curriculum, the more likely the teacher begins to realize that it’s a real need (rather than it just being the GT specialist or parent bugging them yet again.) I tell my kids that if they are going to self-advocate, they need to follow the Four P’s:

1) Be polite
2) Do it in private
3) Provide proof
4) Propose an alternative

. . . when a child self-advocates, not only does the teacher gain a deeper understanding of the child’s learning needs, but the child develops the same deeper understanding.

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