NAGC advocates in Congress and at the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of the gifted education community to increase federal support for gifted and talented learners. We urge our members and other gifted education supporters to assist these efforts by communicating regularly with their Members of Congress on the needs of gifted students.
The 114th Congress will end in January 2017 when the 115th Congress will convene after the elections. The House and Senate committees on education handle the majority of legislation most relevant to gifted education advocates. Although it's important to reach out to all Members of Congress, we need to do even more with the men and women serving on these committees. Check the committee rosters to determine if your Members of Congress serve on them and if so, you know that it's especially important to begin early to develop a relationship with that office, and the staff person handling education issues. See who serves on the House and Senate Committtees that handle education issues.
It is alway important to reach out to new Members of Congress to educate them about the needs of gifted and talented and high-potential students and how increasing federal support can make a difference. New Members mean the possibility of new supporters! Check the Congressional Directory for new Members, whose names are in italics.
Thanks to the leadership of our Congressional gifted education supporters and the longtime advocacy of members and state groups, the needs of gifted and talented students have been included in key sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law in December 2015. The new gifted student provisions were taken from the TALENT Act, which has been an advocacy priority for several years.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA; formerly called “No Child Left Behind”) is the primary umbrella K-12 federal education law (note that the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is the other key federal K-12 law). ESEA includes programs large and small including the Title I poverty-related programs, Title II in-service teacher education provisions, and the Javits Gifted & Talented Students Education Act. The law dates back to 1965.
Read more about the gifted education provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Thanks to continued advocacy efforts on the part of NAGC members and to the leadership of several leading Members of Congress, funding for the Javits Gifted & Talented Students Education Act was restored in 2014 and has received increases since. The program received $12 million in fiscal year 2016. The increased funding means that there will be additional research grants and support for the National Center for Research on gifted Education.
See the Javits page for information on how you can help support continued funding for the program. President Obama's fiscal year 2017 budget request to the Congress included $12 million for the Javits program.
NAGC responds to requests for comment from the U.S. Department of Education on grant programs and other initiatives on which the Department seeks public input. Much of our federal education policy is shaped by the Department through its discretionary authority. The requests for comments are published in the Federal Register. Most recently, NAGC sent a letter to the director of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the Department, about increasing the amount -- and specificity -- of information available about the condition of education for gifted and talented students
In order to increase support in Washington for gifted and talented students, advocates must do more during the year to keep Members of Congress apprised of the need for, and value of gifted education programs and services to students and the nation. Not only does Congress need to hear your stories, they also need to understand that the availability of services for gifted students varies widely between and within states, which in turn leads to huge gaps in how far our brightest students can go. In addition to sending emails, consider making in-person visits to your Members of Congress in their offices in the home state.
Leadership from the federal government could make a difference to ensuring that high-ability students from every background receive the services they need to reach their full potential. Check out the tools in this section of the website to help you make the case for gifted education and consider joining the Legislative Action Network.
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