Advocacy

The Coalition is YOUR voice in Olympia and is the only nonprofit gifted advocacy group in Washington which can hire a lobbyist.  By joining or donating to our advocacy efforts, you provide the necessary financial support needed to continue this work.

WAETAG has partnered with the Washington Coalition for Gifted Children since our inception in 1984.
We donate annually and work with them to promote gifted advocacy in Washington state.

WAETAG Legislative Liaison

Hi! My name is Reby Parsley. I am the Legislative Liaison for WAETAG. Welcome to the WAETAG Advocacy page. Look around and you will find many ways that you can become an advocate for gifted education.

I began my journey in gifted education in 2005, but my advocacy path did not begin until five years later when I had a student in my 5th grade class that was in desperate need of gifted services. This student showed me the inequities that still exist in gifted education for our students and families, specifically our families of color and students living in poverty. I went on to earn my doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Washington; my dissertation focusing on equitable programming opportunities in gifted education. Since then, I have hosted and partnered with my local legislators, collaborated with my local school board, and presented at numerous national gifted conferences and policy symposiums. Now my journey has led me to WAETAG where I have the opportunity to empower and teach YOU to be an advocate. It is YOUR time to advocate for gifted education services for your children, students, and communities.  Let’s partner together to make gifted education more accessible and equitable for all.

How to be an Advocate

Share Your Story!

Your story is a part of the larger gifted education story. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we can use as an advocate. Your story is the “why” of our movement – it helps translate values into action. By sharing your story, and connecting it to our advocacy movement, it creates a shared understanding with decision-makers, illustrates our collective story, and inspires the urgency of our aspirations.

Think deeper about the meaning of your story – What challenge did you face? What choice did you make? What was the outcome?

Are you interested in sharing your story as a part of our collective advocacy movement?

Host A Legislator

Host a Legislator

Legislators are often eager to connect with their constituents and students within their district’s public schools. Even though the vast majority of legislators have not spent much sustained time in classrooms they are in Olympia creating and voting on education policy. Most legislators often gather their perceptions about public education from a variety of sources – research reports, personal and family experiences with schools, and the media. What if we changed the way legislators understood education?

WAETAG’s Host-a-Legislator program provides the opportunity for WAETAG teachers to connect with legislators. Through this program legislators are encouraged to become involved in the teacher’s classroom though co-teaching a lesson or presenting to students. This work is extremely significant as decisions are being made in Olympia which will impact gifted education and our students for years to come. By inviting a legislator into your classroom, it allows them the ability to more deeply understand the complexities of gifted education services.

How might legislation for gifted education look different if even 25% of legislators had spent time with an accomplished gifted education educator? How might their direct classroom and school experience inform and enrich education policy discussions and decisions?

If you are interested in hosting a legislator or another policymaker in your classroom, please Contact Reby at reby@waetag.com today and she’ll happily talk this through with you.

Helpful Tools

Contact Your Legislator

Click the link above for a complete email directory of Washington state legislatures by district.

Find Your District

Click the link above to find your district by address.

You may also use the Legislative Hotline at 1 (800) 562-6000

Operators will take your message and transmit it to your legislator(s) so plan out in advance what you want to say,
write it down, and read it to the operator to be sure it says exactly what you want it to say.

Legislative Update

Legislative Action Alert: Contact Your Members of Congress About the Javits Act Today!


NAGC and WAETAG are urging you to please contact your Members of Congress this week and ask them to sign the “Dear Colleague” letters in support of the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act that are being circulated throughout the House and Senate.

Javits is the only federal funding dedicated to gifted and talented education and focuses resources on identifying and serving students who are traditionally underrepresented and underserved in gifted and talented programs.

The deadline to sign-on to the letter is April 22 in the House and April 27 in the Senate, so please don’t delay in reaching out to your Senators and Representatives this week! If you aren’t sure how to contact your Members of Congress, please use this helpful online tool.

A current list of signatories is available here. If your representative(s) in Congress has already signed on, please be sure to thank them!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

Best Regards,

Reby Parsley, PhD.
President Elect & Legislative Liaison

Host A Legislator

How might legislation for gifted education look different if even 25% of legislators had spent time with an accomplished gifted education teacher? How might their direct classroom and school experience inform and enrich gifted education policy, discussions, and decisions? How can we ignite the passion of advocacy within our students?

Even though the vast majority of legislators have not spent much time in general education or gifted classrooms, they are in our capitol creating and voting on education policy. Legislators gather their perceptions about gifted education from a variety of sources – research reports, personal and family experiences with schools, and the media. 

What if we changed the way legislators understood gifted education?

WAETAG’s Host-a-Legislator program provides the opportunity for WAETAG teachers to connect with policymakers. Through this program, legislators are encouraged to become involved in the teacher’s classroom through co-teaching a lesson or presenting to students. This work is critical as decisions are being made in Olympia which will impact gifted education and our students for years to come. By inviting a legislator into your classroom, it provides them the opportunity to deeply understand the complexities of gifted education services and the range of student needs in classrooms today.

If you are interested in hosting a legislator or another policymaker in your classroom check out the resources on WAETAG’s website. Then contact Reby, WAETAG Legislative Liaison, and she will guide you through this advocacy opportunity!

Legislative Update: House Bill 1611

The 2022 legislative session begins Monday, January 10, 2022. WAETAG, in collaboration with the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education, is excited to report that Representative Laurie Dolan, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee, has filed HB 1611 – Advancing Equity in Programs for Highly Capable Students. Read the full bill here!

HB 1611 focuses on two equity issues that our HiCap programs are facing across our state:

  1. This bill calls for the Universal Screening of all students in a specific grade level for HiCap services. The bill does not require districts to give students an additional test if they already have data that could be used for universal screening. It would require districts to stop relying on inequitable, referral based systems in order to access HiCap services.

WAETAG supports the use of universal screening. We recognize and uphold that gifted students come from all racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. Historical disparities continue to persist in the representation of students from diverse backgrounds in gifted education and the implementation of universal screening has been shown to positively impact the identification and representation of these diverse student populations. Furthermore, universal screening is a proven method to help prioritize the equitable identification of traditionally underrepresented and low-income students as mandated by RCW 28A.185.020 and WAC 392-170-047.  

  1. This bill calls for more transparency from districts by requiring OSPI to report the demographic make-up of each district’s HiCap program. Currently this data is not reported and is not accessible to the public. 

Students of color and low-income students are substantially underrepresented in gifted education programs. Nationally, children living in poverty and students of color are 250% less likely to be identified for gifted services compared to their peers; Washington State mirrors this trend. WAETAG has long advocated for educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to understand that giftedness is universal and present in students from all racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. WAETAG commits to extending these advocacy efforts to help decision-makers understand that giftedness and talent are present not only in the general populace, but are present within all protected classes. WAETAG commits to dismantling discriminatory practices and disceminating equity-based practices. Transparency, such as the data reporting required by HB 1611, is the first step in this commitment.

How can you help?

Help us support this bill and promote equitable practices in gifted education! Write a sentence of support for HB 1611. To submit a comment click on Comment On This Bill.