Gifted students meet state lawmakers at Colorado Capitol

Today was the 16th Annual CAGT Legislative Day in Denver. This is an event that allows students (grades 8 to 12) the unique opportunity to shadow a state legislator for the day at the Colorado capitol building. There is also an adult component to the day where gifted advocates have an opportunity to learn about current legislative initiatives that affect gifted children in the state.

CAGT Legislative Day 2015We have a great turnout every year – this year 284 students from all parts of the state participated. Through an application process, 117 of them were selected to shadow a legislator. Of the 100 Senators and Representatives, 72 either agreed to take shadows or joined us for a discussion over lunch. Legislative Day is a favorite day for legislators (it’s a mix of Republicans and Democrats) because they love the diverse questions these gifted students ask, such as: the economy around mine reclamation areas, laws about special education, what’s being done about ISIS in Colorado, assessment testing in schools and even a question about how to become a legislator. The legislators truly enjoy being with these students, answering their questions and showing them around the capitol.

It was especially gratifying for me because five IB students from my high school, Fairview HS in Boulder, attended Legislative Day. Four of them are pictured here with me.











I felt honored to give the introduction to the hundreds of attendees to start Legislative Day. Here’s an excerpt of my welcome talk:

“The gifted population is quite significant in Colorado. Over 68,000 students, kindergarten through grade 12, are identified as GT.

The purpose of CAGT is to support all of those 68,000 gifted children and their various exceptional needs. CAGT advocates for appropriate education and funding for them. We do this through partnerships with educators, families, administrators, legislators, and the general public.

Legislative Day is the best opportunity for us to engage with legislators. Plus it gives all of us an opportunity to observe committee hearings. And Legislative Day also allows our legislators the opportunity to hear YOUR thoughts on what YOU want out of education.

GT students are covered by the Exceptional Children’s Education Act (ECEA). This is a statute that was passed by the state legislature that requires all districts to identify and serve gifted students. But there’s very little funding. So it’s been passed into law without appropriate money to make it work as well as it should. For many years, dedicated people have worked behind the scenes, on your behalf, to increase the funding.

Know that just by being here YOU are representing the 68,000 gifted kids in the state of Colorado. You make a difference!”

With all the special interest groups lobbying for increased funding, it’s important to get parents and students interacting with state elected officials at the capitol. It makes the issue of gifted education more real, more visible, and more immediate for the legislators. The lawmakers see that gifted students have educated concerns about the world they are growing up in, express themselves confidently and knowledgeably, and deserve an education that meets their needs.

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