UPDATE: The Joint Finance Committee, which writes the proposed state budget (including $$ for gifted education), has EXTENDED its DEADLINE for submitting written testimony to MONDAY (April 29) 4pm. (You could also submit a short video if you prefer.) Here are two examples : a short and powerful video from WATG advocacy co-chair Hillarie Roth, who testified in person, and a longer written information piece from advocacy committee member Pam Clinkenbeard.
The Wisconsin legislature Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has been holding regional public hearings on the proposed state budget for the next biennium (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2021). The final hearing is TOMORROW 4/24 in Green Bay, but if you cannot appear in person you can submit written comments. Much of the testimony already given at these hearings has addressed the public education budget. The time is NOW to submit your comments on behalf of gifted education funding to the Joint Finance Committee! We are providing you with a sample (see below) that you can use as is or modify as you would like.
All written testimony must be submitted to JFC by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, April 24th by emailing BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov. Be sure to use subject line: Testimony on 2019-2021 Budget for Public Record and include your full home mailing address. If you are a public employee, please use a personal email account, not a work related account. All written testimony will be entered into the public record as official testimony. Be sure to "cc" your own legislators as well as they will be voting on the budget that the JFC proposes within the near future! Not sure who your legislators are? Go to the WI state legislature website here http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your HOME address (not work). You can see links to your state Assembly representative and your state Senator.
If you do send written testimony, WATG's Government Action Committee would love to know! Having an idea of where gifted education supporters are in the state helps us in our advocacy work at the state and federal levels. You could send a copy of your testimony, or just a note saying simply 'I submitted testimony' firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMPLE MESSAGE (feel free to adapt for your own use)
"To the members of the Joint Finance Committee:
I am writing to ask for your support for Wisconsin's advanced (gifted) learners K-12. To give a bit of comparative information, gifted education is funded in Iowa at $37.6 million dollars, in Minnesota funding is at $12.2 million dollars, and Ohio funds gifted education at $73.5 million dollars. Currently Wisconsin funds gifted education at level of $237 thousand dollars in the form of competitive grants.
Advanced learning is found in students from all socioeconomic and racial groups, and without proper identification and appropriate programming gifted children are at a great risk for underachievement and dropping out of school.
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 by the state 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.
We request that you support the Blue Ribbon Commission's 2.5 million dollar funding option for gifted education which will be used to increase funding for competitive grants. We would also ask that DPI be given the authority to use a portion of that 2.5 million dollars to designate personnel to process those grants.
[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]