“Failure to help the gifted child is a societal tragedy, the extent of which is difficult to measure, but which is surely great. How can we measure the sonata unwritten, the curative drug undiscovered, the absence of political insight? They are the difference between what we are and what we could be as a society.” — Dr. James J. Gallagher, University of North Carolina
The Governor has just proposed to eliminate all state highly capable program funding for the next two years. This is the third time she’s made such a proposal. Her last attempt was rebuffed by the legislature during the just completed special session only five days ago.
Highly capable programming is not something extra to be funded only when times are good. As the legislature declared in ESHB 2261 in 2009, “for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.” The Washington Coalition for Gifted Education will work together with families of highly capable students and advocates for highly capable programming across the state to oppose the Governor’s short sighted decision. The first step in our campaign will be to write letters to the editors of our local newspapers protesting this action and sharing the important role highly capable programming has had in the education of our students
You can find contact information for your local paper in the print edition of the paper or at the paper’s website. The Secretary of State also maintains a listing of newspaper websites at http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/wa_newspapers.aspx. Most papers will provide contact information on an “About Us” or “Contact Us” page. Many will accept letters to the editor submitted via email, while others will provide a mailing address.
If you have never written to a paper before, the National Association for Gifted Children’s advocacy web site at http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=3148 has some excellent suggestions and examples of where to begin. Be sure to adapt your letter to reflect your personal experiences and the issues facing highly capable programming in Washington State.
Some key issues in Washington are:
- Full funding of Highly Capable Programs in the 2011 – 2013 biennial budget.
- Full implementation of the education reforms promised in ESHB 2261 beginning in September 2011. Under ESHB 2261, highly capable program services will become a mandated part of basic education. This places them within the protections of basic education regarding funding, and it is vital that implementation proceed as scheduled. The Governor’s budget proposal proposes to not fund a program which will be protected as part of basic education.
- Highly Capable Programs are an essential part of securing Washington’s economic future. This is a high-tech state and gifted programs are the place where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talents are best nurtured. Funding highly capable programming is an investment in our state’s future.
This is just the first step in our campaign for highly capable programming. You can stay current with the latest activities of the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education at our website, https://wcge.wordpress.com or by becoming a fan on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/wagifted.
Thank you for your continuing advocacy for our Highly Capable Learners!