Besides being a birthday month for dear people in my life, February brings Valentine’s Day, another highlight in the month! I decided to capitalize on the theme and take it to a place that perhaps few of us dare to go! I’m going to declare it “Love a Legislator Month”!
Maybe you are wondering why I might say this? Of course I’ll tell you! Right now is a time that our voices might make a difference for our gifted children. When Governor Evers was the State Superintendent of Schools, his proposed education budget for 2019-2020 was $1 million for gifted education. That is a four-fold increase over our current budget. This budget, of course, has to be approved in the legislature. In addition, the Wisconsin Blue Ribbon Commission that is looking at school funding issues has a newly released document that includes supporting gifted education. The levels are $.5 million, $1 million and $2.5 million, depending on state resources. This document will go to the legislature for discussion and decision making with the proposed education budget. It is time to contact your representatives and let them know you want them to support gifted funding at a higher level than the currently funded quarter million in competitive grants.
How do you do this? I’ll start with suggesting that you find out who your representatives are if you don’t know already. Go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ Toward the right-hand side of the page, you'll see the words, "Find my Legislators." Underneath, there is a space to enter your address. Type in your complete home address and click "Find." You will see a map of your legislative district and photos of your representative and senator in the Wisconsin State Legislature. The Assembly information is right below that.
By clicking on your representative’s name, you can contact him or her directly through that site. Take some time to send a “Valentine” to let them know how important the additional funding is for gifted education in Wisconsin. You could also choose to call their hotline. Every new contact will be counted! Please be part of the count!
Let’s let our representatives know that we care about our gifted kids! If you contact them and want to share your story, please feel free to let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
[Send advocacy ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org]
As the new state administration and legislature settle in, a lot has already happened that will have an impact on gifted education for at least the next two years and probably beyond. Below is a quick roundup of recent news related to advocacy and funding for gifted and talented students and programs for advanced learners. STAY TUNED for specific action requests from WATG! These requests will mostly take the form of asking you to email your own state Senators and Assembly Representatives to request that they support related bills and actions. If you’re not sure who your state legislators are, just enter your HOME address at this website under “Who Are My Legislators?” http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
WATG’s Government Action Committee is currently developing its advocacy strategic plan for “budget season” (the state’s next biennial budget period begins July 1, 2019 and the budget will be finalized, ideally, before that date). WATG’s plan will probably include support for the requests for additional funding noted below, promotion of WATG’s “Acceleration Project” (see article elsewhere in this newsletter), and a longer-term emphasis on policy changes that will remove barriers and improve action on behalf of students with gifts and talents. The plan will go to the WATG board for approval this spring.
THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO PROVIDE INPUT. What would you like to see in Wisconsin? If you are a parent, what policies would help your children thrive in school? If you are an educator, what would make your job easier as you provide appropriate advanced instructional opportunities? If you have experience in another state, what was available there that you wish was available in Wisconsin? We have UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES this biennium, not least because Dr. Tony Evers is governor and there appears to be a state budget surplus. Please contact email@example.com with your ideas as we develop our strategy; it would help if your subject line said “Advocacy Idea.”
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