Training in the morning included advocacy training and sharing facts about gifted education in Wisconsin, revealing how Wisconsin’s gifted education funding compares with surrounding states. According to NAGC’s State of the States Report, Wisconsin allots funding for gifted education at the rate of 27 cents per K-12 student; Minnesota allocates about $13.75 per K-12 student for gifted education. That’s more than 50 times what our state spends! Our state legislators often compare Wisconsin with our neighbors to the west, and we were able to clearly show that we have much room for improvement when it comes to funding gifted education!
We didn’t ask our legislators for specific laws to be drafted or supported; we asked at this first visit that data about gifted kids be included in the statewide school report cards. We need to know that schools are identifying gifted kids, and that advanced learners are demonstrating growth. We also asked that, after looking at the levels of funding in our surrounding states, that a more appropriate level of funding for gifted education be considered in the next budget cycle.
While some were anxious about attending their first legislative meetings, the excitement afterwards was infectious. We regrouped at the end of the day, and the room was full of smiling faces and animated discussions. A young attendee said that, at that point, everyone seemed to have a 'sugar-buzz'. One family attended with their middle school daughter. Their first legislative meeting was cancelled shortly before it was scheduled to happen. Rather than lose heart, the young lady slipped a note under the door, asking for a meeting with the legislator back in their home district office!
One of the primary goals of the day was simply to increase awareness of the needs of gifted in our state. Lawmakers need to know that gifted kids exist in our state, and that there are issues that must be addressed at the state level. These newly-trained advocates took home the message that it is necessary for them to communicate respectfully, confidently and consistently with policymakers about their needs. Until the policymakers hear from you, they won’t know there is a problem.
Thanks for Raising Your Voices for Gifted Kids!