Your WATG board and Government Action Committee were very active in 2021, and the results of that activity are highly encouraging! In addition to the doubled DPI grant funding that took effect in mid-2021, there is a new gifted education accountability bill (LRB 3080) that will be introduced in the legislature in the next few weeks, and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) will introduce a resolution supporting advanced learning at their conference in late January. Thanks so much to those of you who have contacted your state legislators and school board members to help make this happen! Details and upcoming action follow.
1. Legislation - LRB 3080. This draft bill will move forward VERY QUICKLY in the new year. (LRB is the Legislative Reference Bureau, which includes the staffers, mostly lawyers, who actually draft the wording of legislation). This bill is designed to ensure that services for advanced learners in Wisconsin are widespread, transparent, and equitable. (Imagine if each Wisconsin school district had to report to DPI how many gifted students it identifies and serves, as well as the demographics of those students! And imagine if that type of information was easily available for all to see!) It also includes some potential funding for teacher professional education as part of the Fast Forward grants. You can download the draft at the WATG News page here.
Here's what happens next with LRB 3080.
We'll ask you to make those contacts beginning Jan. 5. You can simply ask your state Senator and Assembly Representative to co-sponsor LRB 3080, or you can take advantage of the opportunity also to tell them why you care - tell your story, or your children's or grandchildren’s stories, or stories about students you have served! For more information or questions, you can contact WATG or explore our Advocacy Blog at https://www.watg.org/advocacy-blog.
2. WASB Resolution 22-04. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) develops a set of resolutions each year, and this year they are proposing and (we hope) passing a resolution supporting equitable gifted and talented programming. You can view all of the draft resolutions here - the one on advanced learners is 22-04. It recommends identifying unmet advanced learning needs in students from every background and providing a variety of advanced programming options (including acceleration) to them. WASB member districts received their resolutions in December, and delegates from those school boards will vote on them at the State Education Convention on January 19. It's not too late to check with your school board, register your support for 22-04, and ask how their delegate plans to vote on it! While WASB resolutions do not have the force of law, passing 22-04 would go a long way to show the state government that there would be support for gifted education programs and legislation throughout the state in the future.
3. Future advocacy plans. Next up: developing a bill on acceleration by spring 2022, and setting the stage for substantial increases in funding in the next biennial budget (2023-2025)! Work on that increased funding to support any new gifted education legislation will begin formally after the state legislator elections in November 2022, but we can all be telling our stories and building relationships with our state legislators year-round to help them understand why gifted education and inclusive advanced learning is crucial.
Thank you and stay tuned, as events move quickly!
Pamela R. Clinkenbeard, Ph.D.
Government Action Committee member and WATG Past President
Professor Emeritus, UW-Whitewater
News from the Government Action Committee