In November 2021, the Gifted Education Family Network partnered with the Minority Achievement, Creativity, and High-Ability Center (MACH-III) for an incredible panel discussion on parent advocacy for gifted and high-ability Black males. Panelists included Dr. Fred Bonner at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, Dr. Tarek C. Grantham and Tony Collins II at the University of Georgia, Syrell Grier at the University of Virginia, and Thelron Pleas and Marques Dexter at the University of Georgia.
Dr. Grantham introduced background and research on the urgency of advocacy for high-ability Black male students, and each panelist shared their lived experiences as Black scholars who have overcome significant obstacles to achieve their potential. Parents in the audience had an opportunity to ask questions about supporting their own children, and Dr. Grantham addressed how parents new to DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) can work to improve inclusion in their local GT groups and GT programs. He discussed the importance of Frasier’s Four As — Access, Assessment, Accommodation, and Attitude — and he emphasized the importance of Attitude and an anti-racist mindset in beginning the work needed to improve equity in GT programs.
As GT parents, we believe at GEFN that it is our responsibility to extend our support and inclusion to the needs of ALL students with advanced learning potential, including – and especially – students in populations that have been underrepresented in GT programs. For this and many other reasons, it is important for ALL families of GT students in Texas to become upstanders in the work for GT equity. Panelist Dr. Tarek Grantham explains this need in “Parent Advocacy for Black Males in Gifted and Advanced Programs,” a chapter he co-authored in Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Male Success Across the P-20 Pipeline (2014):
“To reverse underrepresentation among Black male students in gifted and advanced programs, the role of upstander parents as advocates is critical. Black male underachievement and underenrollment in gifted and advanced programs is an education crisis. A critical goal of advocacy for the needs of gifted Black males is to hold schools accountable for administering gifted program policies and services that promote excellence and equity… When upstander parents challenge bystander teachers to become upstander educators and take an active role in the educational trajectory of Black males in gifted and advanced programs, everyone wins.”
We are grateful to the MACH-III Center, to Dr. Grantham, and to each panelist for making the video of this important event available to our members! We invite GEFN families to share this link with parents and educators in their districts, and we encourage families to engage in discussion about the topics raised.
This event was based on the chapter co-authored by Dr. Grantham in Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Male Success Across the P-20 Pipeline, edited by Dr. Fred Bonner. We encourage families to consider purchasing the book or checking it out from their library (local or interlibrary loan). The MACH-III Center has generously offered to donate a limited number of books for parents unable to purchase a copy (need-based) who would like one — if you are a GEFN member and are interested in one of these, please contact us.
As a GT parent, how can you become part of the solution?
- Follow the MACH-III Center on social media for announcements about new events, publications, and resources
- After watching and sharing the above video, encourage parents and educators to learn more. Consider reading and sharing resources such as the Texas Education Agency GT Equity site, our interview with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, articles and news from the National Association for Gifted Children, and articles on recommended practices for improved GT identification — then find out what your district is doing to improve equity in GT identification and services
- Join our GEFN discussion forum to exchange ideas with GT parents statewide on effective advocacy in your district (GEFN membership required; for free membership, sign up here)