Gifted Education Day Report
Friday, February 11th, was a magnificent day for gifted. We filled the Columbia Room to capacity and beyond with enthusiastic parents and children. More than 45 legislators were contacted. The lime green scarves announced that supporters of Highly Capable Programs were out in force. Thank you, Puyallup ABC.
The crowd was addressed by Rep. Pat Sullivan and Rep. Bruce Dammeier, two of our staunchest supporters in the House, and by Gayle Pauley, Director of HCP at OSPI. Kelly Munn of the League of Education Voters spoke on effective advocacy. Also dropping in were Rep. Norm Johnson whose district is west of Yakima, Rep. Terry Nealey, whose district includes Pasco and Walla Walla, and Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle, who stopped by for information and to talk with advocates.
Thank you to everyone who came to Olympia on Friday. We had delegations from Wenatchee to Stevenson down on the Columbia River, and all points in-between. Ages ranged from 2 1/2 months to grandparents.
Many of those in Olympia took home the STEM Report by the National Science Board. It is a powerful statement about the value and need for gifted programs. Be sure to read it and pass it on to local school officials.
If you took pictures of your meeting with a legislator, consider sending him/her a copy as part of an electronic thank you. And share your pictures on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/wagifted) or send us a copy so we can use them too. Thanks.
Legislative issues update:
The Supplemental Budget (which continues funding for HCP through the end of this fiscal year) is due out of conference any day now.
Substitute HB 1443, Sections 208 and 209, as voted out of committee, gives us something to build on in the future. We will keep you informed of its progress as it moves through the House and Senate.
SB 5475 is scheduled for executive session in the Senate K-12 Committee on Wednesday morning. This is the bill which would delay the inclusion of HCP into basic education until Sept. 2013. There are many amendments to be voted on but their impact on HCP is unknown.
From the K-12 Committee the bill will go to the Senate Ways & Means where it is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday. We will testify; the message depends on what emerges on Wednesday from the K-12 Committee. This bill needs to make its way through the Senate and then repeat the process in the House.
Finally, there is the biennial budget. Experienced observers of the Legislature don’t expect it to appear until the very end of March or even early April.
Contacting Your Legislators
We are counting on your continued participation in our efforts to influence legislation and regulations for HCP. Please focus your advocacy on behalf of education funding in general and HCP funding in particular. Our messages need to be positive and avoid comparison to other programs as each program is unique and funding sources are different. We need to make our case on our own merits, not in comparison to or competition with any other programs. Short, succinct messages are the most effective. We will post samples for your use.
Legislators continue to tell us that those who don’t make a concerted effort to contact them are not going to be heard or heeded.
According to Rep. Ross Hunter, chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, “We’re hearing from almost everyone but education about the budget cuts. It will be hard to protect even basic education dollars if we don’t start hearing about how these cuts will affect our kids’ education and how this will work at the local level.” Said another legislator, “You need to be heard, or even the staunchest education allies won’t be able to stop the cuts.”
We want to be heard!