WATG Government Action Committee
Since our Jan. 1 newsletter article, as we expected, a lot has happened in the advocacy arena. By the time you see this, several WATG advocates will be testifying at the Assembly Committee on Education meeting that includes AB903 (the gifted education accountability bill)! In addition, WASB (the WI Association of School Boards) passed an "advanced learning" resolution at their January conference.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards passed an advanced learning resolution at its January conference. The final version will amend existing resolution 2.37 (from 2019), which just says "The WASB supports increasing state funding for Gifted and Talented programming in Wisconsin's public schools." The amendment voted on last week adds "The WASB encourages that schools focus less on identifying 'gifted' students and more on identifying and addressing unmet learning needs of students capable of high levels of achievement. The WASB further encourages districts to provide a variety of advanced programming opportunities for K-12 students, including acceleration options, and to offer opportunities to individuals such that students from every background are able to achieve at their highest possible levels." While WASB resolutions do not have the force of law, they are highly influential! We thank them for their approval of the resolution.
The draft gifted education accountability bill (formerly LRB 3080) has now been introduced in both houses of the state legislature, and there is a public hearing on the Assembly version (AB903) in their education committee meeting Tuesday morning Feb. 1 (the identical Senate version is SB860). You can click on the bill's full text at https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/proposals/ab903.
Its aim is to make advanced learning more widespread, transparent, and accountable. It includes a small financial component, which allows teachers who are interested in GT professional development to be eligible for the Fast Forward grant program of the Dept. of Workforce Development.
Several representatives of WATG will testify in person at Tuesday's hearing; if you happen to live in the district of any of the committee members (listed here:
it would be particularly helpful if you made a quick call or email to ask your Assembly Representative to support AB903 when it comes time to vote for it. Legislators respond best to their own constituents, and even a handful of calls or emails can make a difference in how a legislator votes!
(If you're not sure who your state Assembly Representative and State Senator are, you can check by going to the legislature home page at https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ and entering your HOME address in the box below "Who are my legislators?" We'll probably need people to contact their state senators in the near future, and those senators who are on the Senate Committee on Education can be found here: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/committees/senate/2272.)
The Assembly Committee on Education will vote on AB903; the Senate Committee on Education will consider SB860; at some point soon we expect the bills to be passed out of committee and sent to the full legislature for a vote. We hope and expect that the final bill will receive bipartisan support, so we will need all of you to contact your state legislators to ask them to vote for this legislation! See the link above for information on how to locate your state legislators. Stay tuned and watch for emails from WATG for more specific dates and deadlines!
Dr. Pam Clinkenbeard
Past President of WATG, Board Member, and Government Action Committee Member
News From the government action committee