Last month, we reported on proposed legislation that would establish “education savings accounts” for low-income gifted children. Two bills to establish these accounts have now been created (Assembly Bill 830 and Senate Bill 725) and have been referred to their respective bodies’ Education Committees. You can see the full text of these at the links below, as well as the Legislative Reference Bureau summary (i.e., the plain English version). The funds (2000 scholarships of $1000 each) would be administered by DPI, and parents could use the money for public or private education expenses authorized by DPI.
More detail on the bills and a recent hearing on AB 830 are below. You can reference last month’s article on Education Savings Accounts for Gifted students to see some of the pro and con arguments about education savings accounts. WATG views these bills as an opening for broader conversations about the need for improved attention and funding for gifted and talented education in Wisconsin. We will be watching for a Senate Education Committee hearing on SB 725, which as of this writing has not yet been scheduled.
AB 830: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab830
SB 725: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/sb725
The Assembly Education Committee held a hearing on AB 830 on Jan. 25. Written and oral testimony was taken, and video of the hearing is available on Wisconsin Eye at http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/12148. Three bills were considered at this day-long committee hearing, and the video coverage of AB 830 begins at approximately 3:37 (three hours and 37 minutes into the video). The bill was introduced by Rep. Mary Felzkowski from Irma. The questions from the committee and the oral testimony were largely positive. On Jan. 30, Rep. Pope (a member of the Assembly Education Committee) proposed the appropriation of $2,000,000 to go to DPI for this program.
The first part of the Legislative Reference Bureau summary (i.e. the plain English overview) follows.
“This bill creates an educational savings account program for gifted and talented pupils. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to award $1,000 scholarships to certain gifted and talented pupils and to credit the scholarships to individual accounts established and maintained by DPI. Under the bill, DPI may award no more than 2,000 scholarships in any school year. Under the bill, a pupil is eligible for a gifted and talented scholarship if the pupil satisfies the following criteria:
1. The pupil is enrolled in a public school, including an independent charter
school, or a private school participating in a parental choice program or the Special
Needs Scholarship Program.
2. The pupil is identified as a gifted and talented pupil because the pupil
demonstrates evidence of high performance capability in an intellectual, creative,
artistic, leadership, or other specific academic area or because the pupil scored in the
top 5 percent on a pupil assessment required to be administered under state law.
3. The pupil satisfies the income eligibility criteria under federal law for a free
or reduced-price lunch.”