Wagifted is back on line after a period away. Fortunately, it was a quiescent period in the legislature without many key votes being called for – and thus we continued to “lie low” on contacting legislators.
That slow period seems to be behind us with the rush this week of floor action on pending bills prior to the March 7 deadline to “pass or die.” You will likely be hearing from us soon regarding contacting legislators on specific issues.
Meanwhile, there is another opportunity for you to directly connect with your legislators. Most of them will be back in district on March 12 for Town Hall meetings. A proposed schedule is attached.
We encourage you to keep an eye out for notices in local media of Town Halls or other public meetings with legislators next week and make plans to attend. If you have any questions about your particular district, be sure to contact your legislator’s office and ask if a Town Hall is scheduled.
What issues should you comment on in these Town Hall meetings?
1. Express support for education funding in general. Revenue forecasts continue to be grim and wrenching cuts are likely for all basic education programs in the next biennial budget. The easy cuts (as bad as they have been) have already been made and only the tough ones remain.
2. Express support for continued state funding of Highly Capable Programs. Please do not compare them with any other programs as the purpose and funding sources of these other programs are very different from HCP. HCP is solely state and local funded which places it in a class of its own. It needs to stand on its own merits.
Some legislators say that since local districts spend up to $5 of their own money on gifted programs for each $1 received from the state, lack of state funding will not jeopardize their continued existence. This is not true, expect in a few exceptional districts. Why spend limited local dollars on a program the state is unwilling to fund?
Express a willingness to participate in the pain of budget cuts so long as they are proportional to the cuts other programs are taking.
3. Strongly support the legislature moving forward with full implementation of the education reforms of ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776 as scheduled. Pending bill SSB 5475 will delay implementation of all aspects of education reform to an uncertain future date. We need to keep faith with the intent and purpose of the reform legislation and move forward now.
If you have the opportunity to make only one brief statement, this is the most important one.
Thank you for your continued activism and support of Highly Capable Programs.