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We’re still digesting the Senate Republican budget that was released an hour ago, but initially we have many more questions than answers.

In 2018, funding for gifted education remains essentially unchanged. Since districts will now be prohibited from using local levy funds to cover costs of basic education, by our most conservative estimate that represents a cut of about $7 million from what was spent in the 2015-1016 school year.

In 2019, funding for gifted education is “doubled” (total state funding is doubled, but the total amount of state and local dollars combined that were spent in 15-16 is not doubled). Here’s where it gets tricky. The budget says that districts will receive $1K per highly capable student, and allocates a total of $22 million. That works out to 22K students funded – based on current enrollment and their actual formula in statute, it should actually be 25,530 students funded, which would mean less than $1K per student.

In 2015-2016, over 61K students received highly capable services, an increase of 8K+ more students than had been served in 2014-2015, and expanding and maturing gifted programs across the state could result in another increase for the current school year.

A formula that funds 22K students, when more than 61K students are identified and served is not ample, and the services that $22 million will provide will not be equitable.

Providing the professional development necessary to build teacher capacity in the identification and service of gifted students costs money. Making changes to our referral and identification processes costs money. Providing services to those students costs money.

If we assume that there is no cap on the number of students to be served, the state would actually be allocating about $360 per student. In 2007, before gifted services became a part of our state’s definition of basic education, when only about 2/3rds of districts offered services, and primarily to students in grades 3-6, the state allocated about $400 per student.

As we said at the beginning, there remain many more questions than answers.

On behalf of the highly capable students of Washington State, we are grateful to see increases to highly capable funding in the education plans represented in HB 1843 and SSB 5607. As an element of basic education, and no longer an optional enhancement, the funding formula for highly capable services must be addressed.

Our goal as advocates is to work with the legislature, with OSPI, with school districts, with teachers, and with parents to ensure that access to highly capable services is made more equitable, so that all students who could benefit are referred, identified, and served appropriately. While both HB 1843 and SSB 5607 make some changes to highly capable funding, both continue to rely on a formula for eligible students that does not measure up. The existing cap on funding set at 2.314% of enrolled students is less than half the percentage of students districts identify and serve.

To reach all the students who need highly capable services requires that we do something different. Districts are working to ensure their programs now serve students across the state in grades K through 12, and we’re seeing that reflected in their reports to OSPI. Programs are changing, but funding from the state is not. Districts are continuing to rely on local levy dollars to fund a significant portion of this element of basic education.

In 2010, the Legislature funded the Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group to recommend changes to the highly capable program to make sure that all students, particularly those who have historically been underidentified and underserved, have access to the services they need to succeed. The work group recommended highly capable services be funded at 5% of student enrollment. We ask again today for the state to fund at that level, and to increase the number of hours funded as reflected in the HCPTWG report. The HCPTWG report also recommends the state restore funding to the Destination Imagination, Future Problem Solving, and Centrum programs that have served highly capable learners across the state, and fund staffing at OSPI and our ESDs necessary to support districts as they work to reach all eligible students.

Today we were fortunate to have M. René Islas, Executive Director of the National Association of Gifted Children, here to testify before the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. His remarks are attached: Gifted Education Day remarks from NAGC.

Joining him was Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction, Gayle Pauley, and 2017 State Teacher of the Year, Camille Jones. You can view their testimony through the TVW Archive here.

Governor Inslee has declared February 2, 2017, Gifted Education Day. We encourage you to remind your legislators that gifted education is basic education, and share with them what highly capable services mean to your family. Use the District Finder on the Legislature’s website, or call the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

gifted-education-day-in-washington-2017

We have an exciting day of advocacy scheduled for Thursday, February 2nd.

Our program begins at 10am in the Columbia Room.

Our morning events will include Gayle Pauley, Assistant Superintendent for Special Programs and Federal Accountability, and Jody Hess, Highly Capable Program Supervisor from OSPI, to talk about the amazing collaborations going on right now to bring groundbreaking professional development opportunities to educators across the state. Their work will have immediate impacts on the way highly capable learners are identified.

We’ll also hear from Camille Jones, Washington State’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, about the highly capable students she teaches in the Quincy School District, students who have historically been underrepresented in gifted programs.

Rounding off our featured speakers is René Islas, Executive Director of the National Association of Gifted Children. NAGC has recently launched a Giftedness Knows No Boundaries campaign that is a perfect match with our work in Washington State.

We expect many attendees will have capitol tours or meetings scheduled with legislators. We will leave ample time between our morning and afternoon events for you to explore and advocate.

At 1:30pm, action will move to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee where there will be a work session on highly capable. We expect our portion of the hearing to begin at about 2pm. Pauley, Jones, and Islas will have 30 minutes to inform and answer questions from the members of the Committee to help them better understand the needs of highly capable learners.

Reminder: parking is limited on the campus so consider parking in one of the satellite lots and using DASH.  Parking on both the campus and satellites can be expensive so come prepared. If you use DASH, there is a convenient stop right outside the door nearest the Columbia Room.

Can’t join us in Olympia on February 2nd?

The Washington State Constitution states: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” It also requires that the system be uniform across the state and funded through regular and dependable sources. in 2007 The McCleary lawsuit was brought forward against the state for its failure to fulfill its paramount duty, and the State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the state was not meeting its educational obligation to the more than 1 million public school children in Washington.

A central issue in the court’s McCleary decision is the unconstitutional reliance on local levies, which are neither regular nor dependable, to fund basic education. As advocates for the highly capable students of Washington, we are working for full funding of the Highly Capable Program. The Legislature must pass a plan by the end of this session to comply with the State Supreme Court’s order.

Senate Republicans have offered one plan, SB 5607. House Democrats have just released their plan, HB 1843. Our initial readings of each plan finds that each falls short of ample funding for highly capable services. Each relies on an old, insufficient, and somewhat arbitrary formula for establishing eligibility for highly capable funding. We recommend the state follow the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group and fund highly capable services for 5% of a district’s enrolled population, an amount close to historical levels of students served in Washington, and one that aligns with the recommendations of the National Association for Gifted Children.

If you can’t join us in Olympia for Gifted Education Day, contact your legislators by letter, phone — the hot line is 1.800.562.6000 — or email on or about February 2nd and urge them to fund highly capable services at 5% of enrollment.

Share your personal experience as a parent or your child’s experience. Your personal story on the impact of funding inequities is a powerful way to highlight the need for a solution.

To find and contact your Legislators, use the District Finder on the Legislature’s website.

Governor Inslee has declared January 29th, 2016 Gifted Education Day. We encourage you to remind your legislators that gifted education is basic education, and share with them what highly capable services mean to your family. Use the District Finder on the Legislature’s website, or call the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

proclamation 2016

We have a full program scheduled for Friday, January 29.

Program begins at 9am or as close to it as we can manage. Please help us by being on time.

Deb Merle, Governor Inslee’s chief education advisor; Jody Hess from the Highly Capable Program (HCP) office at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn are scheduled as speakers and will be open to questions from the floor.

Supt. Dorn will be the recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation for being the only state official who has proposed substantial increases in HCP funding and accepts the findings of the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group. He has a very tight schedule on Friday so please try to be on time. He is scheduled to speak at 9:15.

Reminder: parking is limited on the campus so consider parking in one of the satellite lots and using DASH.  Parking on both the campus and satellites can be expensive so come prepared. If you use DASH, there is a convenient stop right outside the door nearest the Columbia Room.

Can’t join us in Olympia on January 29th?

The Washington State Constitution states: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” It also requires that the system be uniform across the state and funded through regular and dependable sources. in 2007 The McCleary lawsuit was brought forward against the state for its failure to fulfill its paramount duty, and the State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the state was not meeting its educational obligation to the more than 1 million public school children in Washington.

A central issue in the court’s McCleary decision is the unconstitutional reliance on local levies, which are neither regular nor dependable, to fund basic education. Compensation is one of the most significant areas where local dollars are backfilling inadequate state funding. According to OSPI data, between the 1987-88 and 2012-13 school years, state allocations went from covering 99% of salaries to only 77%.

As advocates for the highly capable students of Washington, we are working for full funding of the Highly Capable Program. Currently the state’s funding covers only 15% of the actual costs of the program. Districts vary widely in their ability to raise local levy funds. Districts thus vary in their ability to provide the required HC Programs. The system is not uniform and funding is not regular and dependable.

If you can’t join us in Olympia for Gifted Education Day, contact your legislators by letter, phone — the hot line is 1.800.562.6000 — or email on or about January 29th and urge them to provide ample, equitable and stable funding.

Share your personal experience as a parent or your child’s experience. Your personal story on the impact of funding inequities is a powerful way to highlight the need for a solution.

To find and contact your Legislators, use the District Finder on the Legislature’s website.

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