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Archive for the ‘Legislative Outlook’ Category

SSB 5354 passed unanimously out of the Senate Ways & Means committee, with some amendments, and now goes to Rules for the next actions. The substitute bill is not yet posted but you can find it at the link above in a few days (so many bills were voted out of committees yesterday that it will take a while for the techs to catch up with their posting).

The procedures in Rules are somewhat arcane. Please read the following so you will know how it all works – or is supposed to work.

http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/RULE/Pages/RulesShorthandGuide.aspx

March 1 was the deadline for bills to advance from their chamber of origin. SHB 1641 was not heard in the House Appropriations committee and is effectively dead for this session. But if (when!!) SSB 5354 passes the Senate it goes to the House – where promising groundwork has already been laid in the public hearing and executive action in the Education committee on February 18. See http://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Bill2Law.aspx for the process.

Thank You to everyone who contacted legislators in support of this bill. We could not have done it without your active support.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

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We did it! We have a HiCap bill in the Senate mandating universal screening and other more equitable identification practices! You can follow the progress of SB 6508 on the website of the Washington State Legislature. Through that link,  you can comment on the bill, sign up to get email notifications or an RSS notification.

BUT NOW THE HARD WORK BEGINS.

We need a MOUNTAIN of advocates across the state to have any chance of getting this bill passed.

There are lots of ways you can help advocate: come to the bill hearing (we’ll send out a notice of date and time), to Gifted Ed Day, February 8th, to PTA Focus Day, January 29th, email your legislator, etc.

Sign up to help here: https://tinyurl.com/support6508

This survey has a wealth of information and opportunities for you. You don’t have to be able to make it to Olympia to help. Please have a look to see how you can help.

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The Senate Republicans passed their budget bill (ESSB 5048) last Friday, and the House Democrats are on track to pass their budget bill (HB 1067) this Friday. The bills have significant differences, and we expect some long and difficult negotiations between the two parties. There will be more opportunities for you to voice your opinion before a final budget is approved, but today is the best time to get involved.

The proposed 2017-2018 funding levels for highly capable programs in either budget won’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners. 

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served 63,551 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

In the past few days, we’ve also shared our analysis of the Senate bill, our analysis of the House bill, and what the adoption of either proposal could mean for gifted students.

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. Please contact your legislators today and request that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12
You can find and email your legislator using the District finder at http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder, or you can use the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Operators will take your message and transmit it to your legislator(s) so plan out in advance what you want to say, write it down, and then read it to the operator to be sure it says exactly what you want it to say.
 
Thank you for taking action to gain full, ample, and equitable funding for highly capable services. 63,551+ gifted students in Washington are counting on you!

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The proposed 2017-2018 funding for highly capable programs doesn’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners.

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served over 63,500 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

Districts across the state have long had to supplement state highly capable funding with local levy dollars to be able to identify and serve the gifted learners in their communities. It’s common to see a district spend more local levy funds than they receive from the state for this program of basic education.

To take one example: The Puyallup School District will receive $206,671 from the state in 2016-2017. They will supplement that with $236,271 in local levy funds. Next year, the amount they will receive from the state will be essentially the same, but they will not be able to use levy dollars to fund basic education.

What would they have to eliminate from this year’s budget to stay within the state allocation?

  • They could eliminate their Young Scholars program which serves students K-2 and helps them to identify and develop students who might otherwise be overlooked.
  • They would also have to eliminate their AP Capstone program, the first comprehensive and coordinated program Puyallup has had dedicated to serving gifted students in grades 10-12.
  • Also on the potential chopping block:
    • all professional development on gifted learners
    • parent information nights for families of students who were referred for possible identification and service
    • mailings seeking referrals to the program, and notifying potential students of testing opportunities and the results of the identification process
    • the testing that they use to identify students referred for services
    • additional curriculum for students identified as highly capable
    • …and that still wouldn’t be quite enough

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. To provide for improvements in the program that are essential to address issues of equity will require more. 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 also has a cost. We request again that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12

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Washington promises a continuum of Highly Capable Program services K-12 to identified gifted students as part of basic education. These students can be found in school districts large and small, and across all demographic groups. Our districts seek to find and serve each of these students.

Inclusion in basic education has resulted in the identification and support of increasing numbers of gifted students from all backgrounds, particularly those from previously underserved populations. Yet districts continue to struggle to identify and serve all their eligible students due to a lack of adequate and equitable state funding.

Amid growing challenges—changing demographics, increasing diversity of the student population, and limited fiscal resources—addressing the needs of gifted students is a real issue. Underserved gifted students may include students who are already the focus of reform efforts: dropouts, students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and students who live in poverty. Research shows that between 18 percent and 25 percent of high school dropouts are identified as gifted. The majority of those students are from low-SES families and culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

Providing for the needs of gifted students is an important component of local school efforts. Using multiple measures to identify gifted and talented students and providing various strategies to meet their needs will go a long way toward helping these students excel academically (closing the achievement gap), stay in school (increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate), and be successful in their lives.

The direction and continuity of local gifted services and supports are heavily influenced by the strength of state policy initiatives and funding. Unfortunately, the state appropriation for the Highly Capable Program currently covers only about 15% of the actual costs to districts to provide this basic education service. We were very disappointed to see that the House budget proposal released today does nothing to remedy this.

In 2010, the Legislature created the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group. Comprised of national and state experts on gifted education, the HCPTWG recommended the state increase funding to 5% of total student enrollment, and increase the number of hours of highly capable services funded to 6.5 hours per week in a class size of 15 for grades K-6 and 3.1 hours per week in a class size of 15 for grades 7-12. Funding the recommendations of the HCPTWG would be an important step towards ensuring equitable access to the state’s Highly Capable Program. Continuing to stand by an obsolete and inequitable formula and claiming to have met their obligation, as the House budget proposal did today, is not acceptable.

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You haven’t heard from us recently as everything we have been doing in advocating for Highly Capable Programs has been pretty much “behind the scenes.” We are conferring and negotiating with key legislators regarding HB 1560, which purports to enact the recommendations of the Quality Education Council for the HC program. And the QEC recommendations pretty much are those of the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group. Unfortunately, only a small part of the two sets of recommendations is contained in this bill and we are working as hard as we can to get the full recommendations for identification, services and funding as an amendment to the pending bill. If we are successful in getting a sponsor for our proposed amendment, we may be contacting you asking that you get in touch with your representatives and ask them to vote for the amendment. It all depends on how these touchy negotiations go….

Attached is the fact sheet we are using in our conversations with legislators. It attempts to distill pages and pages of material into a single page fact sheet. Because key Legislators seem to be fixated on issues of equity and the opportunity gap and not on the needs of our gifted students, we have focused our efforts on things which interest them.

GIFTED EDUCATION DAY, MARCH 19

Preparations for Gifted Education Day continue. We are looking forward to large student contingents from Edmonds and Puyallup as well as smaller groups from other districts. We have a full line-up of speakers. Please be in the Columbia Room no later than 9:10 so we can start our program and finish on time for you to meet with your legislators, with whom you have already made appointments – we trust you have made appointments. If not, do so immediately, please.

We have a Proclamation of Gifted Education Day from the Governor and expect passage of Resolutions in both houses for both Gifted Education Day, March 19, and Gifted Education Week, March 17-23. The exact wording of these three documents may vary slightly, but attached is the text of the Senate resolution. The Resolutions are being sponsored by new “friends” of gifted education – we have had a core group of faithful Legislator friends for several years now and the group is expanding with these new members: Rep. Marcie Maxwell in the House and Senator Ann Rivers in the Senate. We welcome their support!

We need as large a turn out on March 19th as we can muster to support our efforts with Legislators to get HB 1560 amended as we suggest. Please come to Olympia and support us. If you can’t come to Olympia, contact your Legislators during the week of the 18th and express your support for Highly Capable Programs and tell your Legislators about how important they are for both students and the state. Information on contacting your Legislators is in the Gifted Education Day Handbook.

In Olympia, we will provide name tags, note paper and envelopes, note cards, and cards with contact information on them for you. Regulations on handing out materials in the Columbia Room keep us from providing printed materials there so print out whatever you need and bring it with you.

If you need more information, contact us at wagifted@earthlink.net.

GIFTED EDUCATION DAY 2014

Gifted Education Day 2014 is scheduled for February 28th. Every other date in February 2014 was taken when we made our request and since it is the short session, we took what we could get. Mark your 2014 calendar (if you have one already) now.

P.S.

We need more followers on our Facebook Page. Legislators look at these things when judging their response our requests. Help us reach 700.

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1. Help us build our bona fides in Olympia. We would like to reach 750 followers on Facebook during session. Please “like” us on Facebook.

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2. While you need to work on an almost daily basis with your local building and/or district, we offer a special opportunity to interact with state legislators. We look forward to working with you on educating our legislators on Gifted Education Day in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Since appointments are easier to arrange for a small group to meet with a legislator, rather than a number of individual appointments, consider joining with other advocates in your area and making a joint trip to Olympia. Coming jointly makes parking easier to find and less expensive.

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3. You can now submit comments on any pending bill by clicking on “comment on this bill” on the bill home page. The first time you use it you will be asked to set up an account with your email and a password. You will also be asked for your name and address. I tried it and it is easy to set up and use. Comments are limited to 1000 characters. Quick and easy – except for counting the number of characters in your message. If you are a Twitter user you already do that. This is a test run to see how much it is used and how much value it has to legislators.

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4. Seabury School is presenting Dr. Susan Daniels on “Raising Creative Kids” on February 20th in Tacoma. Creative children think outside the box! They are driven by curiosity and innovation. Parenting them, however, can be both EXCITING and EXHAUSTING. Learn strategies for cultivating and supporting creativity, as well as parenting strategies for nurturing the social and emotional development of your creative children. For more information, or to register, visit their event page.

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IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW

5. If you receive e-mails from wagifted@earthlink.net, please be sure any message or spam filters you have will also accept messages from wagifted@gmail.com.  To ensure that we can always get important communications to you, even if one of our methods is not available, we’re building some redundancy into our system.  We’ll be working on some additional changes in the coming weeks and days.  Even though the address is different, the email is indeed from us.

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6. Bills are starting to move out of committees to the floor. Besides any emails we may send out, important information and updates will be available on our Facebook page, so be sure to check there.  http://www.facebook.com/wagifted

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7. The following material is adapted from Advice for New Gifted Education Specialists by Tamara Fisher on her blog Unwrapping the Gifted. Ms. Fisher is a nationally recognized leader in the field of gifted education and is the gifted specialist in a district in Montana. Her blog appears on Education Week Teacher at http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/

This particular essay is advice for newly minted gifted specialists but so much of it applies to parents who advocate on a local level I couldn’t help but quote from parts of it to share it with you.

By Tamara Fisher

1. Connect with others who do what you do. You will need a support network of others who “get it” and speak the same language. Join your local, state and national gifted education associations.

2. Be okay with not being popular. You won’t be everyone’s favorite person, and some will dislike or be cynical about you simply because of your position. Some will cringe or roll their eyes (literally or internally) when you speak up at meetings. Yes, being an advocate for your student will often mean others won’t be keen on you. So be it. *shrug* Now you know who your allies are – and are not. Now you know who needs to be the object of further efforts on your part to educate them about the needs of gifted learners.

3. Be ready to commit to committees. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Even if others in your school or district understand the needs of gifted and advanced learners, that doesn’t mean they are as prepared and as willing and as mindful to be a voice for these kids as you are.

4. Nurture and support positive working relationships with your administrators and school board members. They are often the final deciders, and whether or not they have some understanding of the needs of gifted learners (and therefore how those needs are impacted by their decisions) may depend on whether or not you’ve made or taken advantage of opportunities to educate them about those needs. Be positive. Be proactive. Be persistent.

5. Know your stuff. You must become the local expert on these kids. There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding what is and is not best for advanced learners. It will frequently fall to you to clear up the confusion or to set someone straight or make the distinction between research-based best practice and long-held mythology.

6. And finally, be proactive. Gifted students are (among) the most misunderstood, overlooked, inadequately taught learners in our classrooms… because others think they are okay on their own or where they are. But okay isn’t good enough. The needs of gifted students stem from their strengths, and helping others to understand this counterintuitive reality is now part of your aim.

Get ready and go out and talk to your legislators and administrators about the need for appropriate programs for highly capable learners. Be a warrior, an advocate, a leader, an expert, an ally – if necessary, a burr under someone’s saddle.

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