Government Action Committee
As you may have heard, AB903 (the gifted education legislation that would have increased transparency, accountability, and equity in gifted education) was vetoed by Gov. Evers. You can see the full wording of his veto statement below and we urge you to read it. Like many of the education associations that stated their opposition to the specific bill and its precursors, the governor was not against the content of the bill, but was against the lack of accompanying funding. He and several other education groups saw AB903 as one of many unfunded mandates that would put an undue burden on schools. WATG disagrees with this perspective, since most of the activities in the bill are already mandated by state law and this bill would have strengthened compliance with those already-existing mandates. The good news is that the governor and other education groups (including the Wisconsin Association of School Boards) have stated in writing their support for gifted education and equitable advanced programming.
WATG's Government Action Committee members will take a breath and will then start planning advocacy activities, both government-related and beyond. We will plan for a number of different scenarios based on the possible outcomes of the November 2022 elections. Meanwhile we will also look at non-government activities and sources of support (e.g. business and parent groups). Your ideas are needed! What should we do next? Where should we look for support? Please send any suggestions or sources to Advocacy@watg.org.
Here is the Governor’s Veto Message, dated April 8, 2022.
Dr. Pam Clinkenbeard, Chair
Government Action Committee, WATG
From the WATG Government Action Committee
The state legislature passed the gifted education legislation earlier this month, and it will go forward to the governor for his signature (or his veto!) as AB903. It is expected to go to Gov. Evers at least by April 14 (though it's possible that it would move sooner).
This is the bill that would increase transparency, accountability, and equity in gifted education in Wisconsin. (It does not mandate anything about how districts must identify or program for advanced learners.) You can find the bill's full text and its history at
Thanks so much to those of you who contacted your state Senator and/or Assembly Representative!
Now for the final step. The legislation was NOT passed unanimously, so we need to let Gov. Evers know how important it is to Wisconsin students and their families. (Many Democrats voted against it, not because they're against gifted education, but because they consider many new education bills to contain unfunded mandates.) The contact is easy: just go to
and complete the online form using your HOME contact information. Your request goes on the line that says "Share your opinions with Governor Evers." You can say something as simple as "Please sign AB903 into law!" but you may also add why it's important to you or your child. (For more detail and ideas, see our earlier newsletter articles at https://www.watg.org/advocacy-blog.)
You may also call the governor's office with your message at 608-266-1212. Please make your online or phone contact in the next few days - it will take time for the staff to log all the requests that the governor is receiving at this very busy time of year!
Government Action Chairperson
Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted
Things continue to move rapidly with the legislation that will add a layer of accountability to the funding of Gifted and Talented education in the state. We have found this to be a real “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” situation. Many have asked why we need this legislation, as gifted education is so underfunded in the state. However, without this legislation we don’t have any accountability in place so increasing funding is almost impossible. Thus the circle continues. It has been very promising to see things progressing recently, though! AB903 passed in the Assembly on February 22nd and is now moving on to the Senate! We anticipate it passing there with no issue. So, where does that leave us? Next stop will be the Governor's office! We need your help, though!!! PLEASE contact Governor Evers and ask him to support AB903/SB860! Contact him TODAY! Do not wait! It will take his office time to log the responses to this legislation, so we have been advised to start this process sooner rather than later.
I must admit that until now I had never contacted the Governor’s office, so this has been a fun (but easy) learning experience for me! Let me walk you through the process. All you have to do is go here:
and fill out the online form using your PERSONAL contact information rather than your work or professional information. I was shocked that it was that easy! Here is a sample of what I wrote,
“I would ask that you please support AB903 and SB860. We need more support for our advanced learners across the state, and without the accountability of these bills we will be unable to continue to increase funding for gifted education. Without proper funding and support advanced learners from across the state are at great risk for underachievement and a variety of other issues. It is imperative that we are meeting the needs of ALL learners, including those of advanced learners. We are dramatically behind our neighboring states in this area. Please support AB903 and SB860.”
Feel free to copy it verbatim or make it your own! Be as personal or generic as you would like! The only thing that I would ask is that you specifically mention AB903/SB860. In very general terms, shorter is often better, as they get such a large volume of contacts, but do feel free to share your heartfelt personal experiences! Every contact makes a difference! Every contact is logged as either being for or against an issue, and the more tally marks that we get in the “for” column, the more likely it is to pass! We are in the home stretch! Let’s do this together for our kids, our educators, and our communities!!!
Government Action Chairperson
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
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
FYI, the facts in our 1/1/22 article below are correct, except that LRB 3080 has been fast-tracked and is moving NOW! The cosponsorship memo was sent to all legislators Monday 1/3, and their deadline to respond is Friday NOON 1/7. (So please write your state legislators by Thursday 1/6 to ask them to cosponsor LRB 3080! See "how-to" below.).The public hearing will likely be Wed. Jan. 12!! Stay tuned for specific information on how to testify in person or in writing.
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
Thanksgiving is behind us and the next round of holidays are barreling towards us. It’s hard to believe that another year is drawing to a close. Though we are far from finished with our work on legislation this year, we would ask that you keep an eye out for upcoming emails requesting your help!
We didn’t think that it was enough to DOUBLE funding for Gifted Education this year, so we are moving full steam ahead on passing legislation! With the help of Rep. Petryk and Sen. Bernier, we are nearing the finish line on a bill that will add more accountability to our schools to ensure that our students are being challenged appropriately. We have been working tirelessly to get this bill passed and we are nearing the finish line. Within the next couple of weeks we will be reaching out to you and asking that you contact your legislators asking for their support. We aren’t ready for you to reach out to them quite yet, but we are poised and ready for when we get word they are ready to move forward.
Do you know who your legislators are? If you do not, here is the process:To find your state legislators, go to the legislature home page at:
find the section called "Who Are My Legislators?" and enter your HOME address.Your state Senator and Assembly Representative and their contact information will pop up. It is critical that legislators hear from their own constituents when the time is right. As I said, stay tuned and be ready to reach out! Together, we can make a real and impactful difference in the education of every advanced learner in our state.
There is another time sensitive piece of work that we are supporting. WASB (Wisconsin Association of School Boards) is proposing and hopefully passing a resolution supporting gifted education. WASB members should be receiving their resolutions sometime in early to mid December. These resolutions will be voted on at their 2022 Wisconsin State Education Convention in late January of 2022. The passing of this resolution will go a long way in showing Madison that there would be support for gifted education programs and legislation in the future. We will be asking you to contact your School Board members and voice your support once they receive the resolution.
So there it is, a lot of anticipation, and waiting for the timing to be right. But isn’t that just like the holidays anyway?
WATG Board Member
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.
Accountability measures such as these - which ensure services for advanced learners are widespread, transparent, and equitable - are the subject of legislation that is being drafted as of this writing.
Members of WATG’s Government Action Committee anticipate this accountability legislation will move forward in the coming months and be on the Governor’s desk by late February. Additionally, a second bill on acceleration policy is being drafted and should follow the same timeline.
While no additional funding is attached to either of these bills, the policy changes now could lay the groundwork for future funding-related measures.
Stay tuned here to find out how you can help make this vision a reality. In the meantime, it’s not too early to get to know your state legislators.
To find your state legislators, go to the legislature home page https://legis.wisconsin.gov/; find the section called "Who Are My Legislators?" and enter your HOME address. Your state Senator and Assembly Representative and their contact information will pop up.
WATG Government Action Committee
The state budget passed on July 8th and with it a DOUBLING of the funding for gifted and talented education in the state! WATG poured countless hours into building relationships with two key offices to make this happen. We have a LONG way to go in our state but this is a fantastic start! All of this funding is earmarked for the existing grants program, and DPI is hard at work to determine a fair and equitable way to distribute the additional funds.
Meanwhile, WATG is already in talks with its legislative supporters to strengthen policy for gifted and talented education in the state. These talks have just started, but could result in substantive policy and accountability changes that make services for advanced learners more widespread, transparent, and equitable. As we know, just having a state mandate for identification and services does not guarantee their availability.
Reminder: there are other appropriate sources of funding for advanced programming and services, outside of the GT grants program. General school district funding for professional development, curriculum and instruction, and assessment should include appropriate services for developing students' gifts and talents. There are also long-standing federal sources, including Title I funds that support underrepresented gifted students, Title II funds that support teacher professional development in meeting the needs of advanced learners, and Title IVa "well-rounded" funds, particularly with respect to AP, IB, and early college credit options.
More recently, federal ESSER funds may be used to support gifted students, as well as other students. DPI issues guidance on how ESSER I, II, and III funds may be used. At this page
there is specific guidance for gifted and talented (emphases ours):
"Gifted and talented learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, access to technology, access to coursework, access to direct services, and being identified, potentially impacting their opportunity to make progress toward their individualized learning plans. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations [CRRSA/ESSER II] may be used to expand summer services, purchase resources, engage in professional learning, hire additional staff, or contract with other agencies. Areas to prioritize may include the following:
Celebrate our victory and send us ideas for future policy!
You may have noticed that WATG’s Government Action Committee has been emailing you a lot recently asking you to contact your legislators requesting support for gifted education in this biennial budget.If you followed the recent budget hearings, you may even have heard several board members testifying. This year, we had seven individuals testify in person and at the virtual listening session, asking for support for gifted education! So why the big push? Why are we hitting this SO HARD this year? Well, we are very pleased to FINALLY announce that we have partnered with the legislative offices of Sen. Bernier and Rep. Petryk in drafting a budget motion for this budget. It has been an absolute pleasure and joy to have worked behind the scenes on this monumental task for the last several months! So what is a budget motion? In a nutshell it is a formal ask brought forth by a member of the Assembly and a member of the Senate requesting budgeted funds for a clearly defined area.
Here is the overview of our budget motion:
So what does it all mean? Our current level of state funding for gifted education would go from $237,200 and year to $1,000,000! That is a HUGE increase! And here is the best part; it is just the first step! This is an excerpt from the four page budget motion:
The overall goal for the state should be to fund universal early screening that includes all five areas of giftedness that actively addresses equity, and that uses local norms; and to provide ongoing talent identification and development. It would also include access to and preparation for advanced and accelerated coursework materials for K-12 schools and professional development opportunities for teachers. There are programs available to license gifted education teachers and gifted program coordinators, but there is no requirement that educators of the gifted obtain these licenses.
However, a jump to this future state would require a substantial amount of resources requiring state aid of about $14 per pupil ($12 million) to bring Wisconsin in line with best practices in surrounding states.
While this is an achievable goal going forward, this motion looks to bring Wisconsin incrementally closer to this reality. The first step includes additional funding for the existing grant program to get schools to identify and serve more gifted and talented students.
Do you want to help make this vision a reality? Here is your call to action: CALL (don’t just email) your state legislators and ask them to “support or co-sign the budget motion brought forth by Sen. Bernier and Rep. Petryk”. If they have ANY questions, or would like any information, simply direct them to reach out to either Sen. Bernier or Rep. Petryk. LET’S FLOOD THESE OFFICES WITH PHONE CALLS!!! We are specifically hoping to target the offices of the legislators on the joint finance committee. Those members are:
Representative Born (Co-Chair)
Senator Marklein (Co-Chair)
Representative J. Rodriguez
Simply click on their names for their contact information.
We hope that this budget motion will make it through the Joint Finance Committee and to the Governor's desk. We thank you in advance for your support as we push to make this a reality for all GT kids in the state of Wisconsin!
Hillarie Roth, Government Action Committee Chair
News From the government action committee