by Cathy Greene
Former Co-chair, IAGC Advocacy Committee
Advocacy is such an interesting word. No one quite knows exactly what it means or who is supposed to do it. As one of the Co-Chairs of the Advocacy Committee for IAGC, I’ve often been confused about what all of it encompasses. If advocacy means to support, encourage or promote, does that mean that an advocate for gifted supports, encourages, and promotes gifted children, their teachers, their parents, and IAGC? For me, the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above. Then the next question becomes, how do I do that with a schedule that can be somewhat overwhelming?
Well, the first thing is by joining IAGC and encouraging others to do so. I’m not sure I understood how important that was until recently when at the Illinois State Board of Education hearings, I was asked how many people IAGC represented. Numbers matter to Illinois State Board of Education Board members and to legislators. It is important that our organization is strong. I was thinking about the little things we can do to increase those numbers. Parents of gifted children are always looking for Christmas and end-of-the-year gifts for their child’s teacher. I cannot think of a better gift for the teacher of a gifted child than membership to IAGC, well, unless it was a gift certificate for the convention itself.
Administrators can include membership to IAGC for their faculty members who work with gifted children. Then again, a parent organization may want to purchase membership in IAGC for their district administrators. What a powerful gift that would be for your children! When we think of advocacy we often think of letter writing and phone calls. Now, please don’t for a minute get me wrong. Your letters and phone calls are an essential part of advocacy. A phone call or a letter to a legislator or an Illinois State Board of Education member at the right time can make the difference between 7 million dollars in funding for gifted education or 0 dollars for gifted education; but just as important is making sure that those educators who serve our gifted children every day have the benefit of the support of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children.
We can do that with a different kind of advocacy, one that takes very little time and not much money. Annual membership in IAGC costs only $50.00 and is a gift that will benefit the giver and the recipient. It will make our organization stronger, and in that way make it more powerful in the eyes of Illinois State Board of Education members and legislators. Advocacy is such an interesting word. What I’ve learned is that if we all do our part, it isn’t that difficult.