If you are not sure of the names of your state legislators (district boundaries changed a great deal in 2011), go to this page http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your HOME address or consult the map under “Find My Legislators.” Your state senator and representative and their contact information will appear. (You may of course contact any legislator you wish to contact, but messages from constituents to JFC members are particularly key right now. If you write to someone who is NOT a member of JFC, just ask them to urge JFC to support the request.) Please send us a copy of your letter or e-mail (and make it clear which legislator you contacted) – you can send your copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact WATG if you have any questions!
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Model message to Joint Finance Committee members – personalize as desired
Dear [Senator or Rep. surname]:
[I am a constituent of yours and] I am writing to ask for your support, as a member of the Joint Finance Committee, for Wisconsin’s advanced learners K-12. I realize that the fiscal situation for the next biennium is not yet clear, but I ask you to support the requested increase of $762,800 by DPI for gifted and talented grants and the related statutory and regulatory language (DPI Decision Item 6025 – Gifted and Talented Programs). This was removed in the governor’s budget and I ask for it to be reinstated.
Wisconsin statute (s.118.35) requires school districts to identify advanced learners (“gifted and talented”) and provide them with appropriate services. No funding is provided in school funding formulas to facilitate this mandate. Advanced learners are found in every cultural and economic group and require instruction and services beyond what is typically provided at grade level, just as students with other special needs require targeted instruction and services. Developing the talents of ALL of our students, including Wisconsin’s estimated 105,000 advanced learners, is an economic issue as well as an educational one.
The only current Wisconsin state support for educating advanced learners is a small ($237,200) grant program. I support DPI’s request for an additional $762,800 for the grant program and for statutory language allowing for professional development activities to ensure appropriately challenging instruction and social-emotional support for advanced learners.
In comparison to other states, Wisconsin’s funding for advanced learners is extremely low ($237,200 works out to $0.27 per K-12 student). For example, Minnesota state funding (from the latest national survey) was $11,417,865 ($13.75 per student); Iowa, $35,057,950 ($74.77 per student); and Georgia, $367,057,950 ($227.67 per student).
[Add in any personal story about your child or your students that you wish]
Thank you for your time; I appreciate your consideration of this request.
[name, HOME street address, personal (home) e-mail address optional, phone optional]
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