As you may have heard on the news, the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has not yet voted on the education portion of the proposed state budget for the next biennium (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019). It is expected that this vote will happen very soon: perhaps even this week (June 26-30), but probably right after the July 4 holiday. This is your last chance to affect the education budget process for the next two years! Please write your state Assembly representative and state Senator; see a sample message below regarding state funding for gifted education.
It is particularly important for you to write if you live in the district of a member of the Joint Finance Committee (see that list at http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/committees/joint/1680). Not sure who your legislators are? Go to the WI state legislature website here http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your HOME address in the search box (not work address). You can see links to your state Assembly representative and your state Senator.
SAMPLE MESSAGE (feel free to adapt for your own use)
“Dear [Rep. or Sen. Name]:
I am writing to ask for your support for Wisconsin’s advanced learners K-12. Students with gifts and talents are found in every economic and cultural group, and Wisconsin provides minimal support for these students, especially in comparison with other states. Wisconsin’s funding of only $237,200 per year (for a small grant program) works out to $0.27 per K-12 student. Minnesota state funding (from a recent 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).
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 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 latest issue of Wisconsin School News documents issues related to the “excellence gap” (the disproportion in income levels of those scoring “advanced” on academic achievement).
DPI has requested an increase of $762,800 from the current $237,200 per year (to total $1,000,000 per year), but the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted (WATG) and I ask that you support funding programs for these students at the level of $5,000,000 per year. The DPI request for a modest increase was removed in the governor’s budget and I ask not only that it be reinstated, but increased. The governor’s budget supports DPI’s request that school districts be allowed to apply directly for the grants, so a funding increase would allow many more students to be appropriately challenged.
[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]