Thursday, October 22, 2015

4th Grader's Letter to Gov. Ducey

Guest post by Sophia & Audrey Tesch -

My daughter Audrey, who is in the Fourth Grade, asked me how to write a letter to the Governor. I told her that when I write a letter to an elected official I tell them my story, how I feel about the issue, and what I would like him/her to do about it. She said, "Ok," and later produced this letter which she mailed to Governor Doug Ducey's office. I am proud of Audrey. She values her education and she is standing up for it. I hope others will stand up for funding education in Arizona as well and give our students the best, so that our students can give us their best. Thanks Audrey!

Thank you Sophia & Audrey for sharing with us!

Dear Reader, 

Do you want to know more about education and gifted education funding in Arizona?  In Gilbert?  Check out our recent blog article:  Gifted Education Funding

If you or your child would like to write your own letter, you may wish to include an invitation to Gov. Ducey and/or your AZ legislative representatives to attend Parent Day of the National Association for Gifted Children's conference, to be held on Saturday, November 14th in Phoenix.  This would be a unique event at which they could hear from professionals in the field about the unique needs of gifted children and help them realize that the philosophy of gifted education - to focus on and support student strengths as well as student struggles - is a philosophy that would benefit every student.

Friday, October 16, 2015

ASU Earth and Space Exploration Day - 11/7/15

This is a wonderful family event that features hands-on exploration activities with earth and space scientists.

ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration's annual Earth and Space Exploration Day - This annual event, hosted by Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration, has experienced remarkable growth over the past several years. Staffed by the school's faculty, researchers and students, the event is an opportunity for children and the general public to engage with scientists and researchers one-on-one or in small group settings. Earth and Space Exploration Day is one of the school's most visible efforts to increase science literacy in Arizona.

Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Arizona State University Tempe campus - Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4) - located on the corner of McAllister Ave. and Terrace Rd.


Earth and Space Exploration day is a free annual fall event hosted by the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) on ASU's Tempe campus inside/outside ISTB 4. The SESE community offers special science-related activities from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for students age five and up, families, educators and anyone interested in exploring Earth and space alongside real scientists. One of the biggest attractions is ISTB 4 with its Gallery of Scientific Exploration offering a variety of interactive exhibits and the Marston Exploration Theater, which will be running 3-D astronomy shows throughout the day. Visitors can see a replica of Curiosity rover, explore Tempe Butte on a guided field trip, pan for gold, watch science demos, dig for meteorites, bring rock samples for Dr. Rock to examine and so much more! Dr. Rock will be available to analyze rock samples and children are encouraged to bring samples from their backyard for analysis.

A list of activities is available on the event's website:

Pre-registration is encouraged to ensure that visitors are able to secure tickets for the astronomy shows and other ticketed activities. Public parking is free in any ASU lot south of University Avenue on Nov. 10. The most convenient parking is available in the Rural Road parking structure (#4) on Lemon St. and Rural Rd., and the Tyler Street parking structure (#2) on the corner of Tyler Street and McAlister. A parking map is available at:

Student visitors can get their event "passport" stamped upon completion of an activity. After the event, some teachers and troop leaders collect the "passports" and award extra-credit or badges based upon the number/types of passport stamps. Free teacher resources will be available such as educator packets, hand-outs, supplies and posters, as well as contacts for outreach and more educational interactions with ASU scientists and students.

Personal Note:
Here's a picture from a few years ago when we enjoyed this event with cousins who came from out of state.  It was very inspiring to these children since several of them are interested in pursuing STEM careers in the future.  Even the toddler enjoyed the experience (well, at least until he lost patience with the picture taking process).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gifted Education Funding

This year Gilbert Public Schools and other districts in Arizona are asking voters to support budget overrides.  Per Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted by-laws, one of our missions is to educate our members on issues pertinent to gifted education.  Therefore, Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted (GSG) publicly states that we are in support of both the 2015 override and bond initiatives.  

  • Why would a budget override be pertinent to gifted education?
  • Why would a bond be pertinent to gifted education?

The Budget Override

First to explain what an override is:  “Since 1980, the Arizona Legislature has allowed school districts to supplement their base budgets by asking voters in their local districts to approve a budget override.  If approved by voters, this override will allow GPS to supplement its operation budget by 10% more than the state provided funds.  This election authorizes the increase for seven years, but funding is reduced after year five per state law.” 

In other words, if the state legislature does not fund public education at the level communities expect in order to have desired programs, the district has permission through state law to ask the local community through an election to directly fund their local public school district.  Money obtained from a local override does not get processed through the state sieve of budget reallocations; rather the money stays local and this means local control.

If you haven’t seen the Gilbert Public Schools’ Election Information presentation on the budget, you can do so by visiting the GPS homepage, and clicking on the appropriate links, as indicated by the yellow arrow below.  The district has Fact Sheets as well as FAQ sheets to assist voters in understanding these important budget issues.

The graph below, which is part of the Gilbert Public Schools’ budget presentation, shows the history of state funding for the GPS Maintenance & Operations (M&O) budget and how local community overrides supplemented the M&O budget.  By law, M&O budgets are to be used for teacher & staff salaries, curriculum and classroom supplies. 

You will notice, that the combination of state M&O funding (blue) and local M&O override funding (orange) has never returned to 2009 levels.  Districts are expected to do more with less, but GPS is not able to pay their teachers a competitive wage.  Mesa and Chandler school districts have voter passed overrides and have chosen to invest in their public education.  Their teachers and staff are paid a competitive wage, whereas teachers in Gilbert are not.  GPS has lost great teachers and staff to these districts, including gifted endorsed teachers.

Again, what does this have to do with gifted education funding?  On the map below you will see how states compare across the nation regarding both mandated gifted education as well as the funding commitment to gifted education.  Arizona falls into the category of the states that have unfunded mandates for gifted education.

Now, Arizona wasn’t always categorized as an “orange” state.  Arizona used to partially fund gifted education.  When did the state of Arizona defund gifted education?  The table below shows the history of Arizona’s gifted education funding.

According to the table, Arizona decreased gifted education funding in 2009-2010, and completely defunded gifted education beginning in 2010-2011.  When the state defunded gifted education, districts across the state had to use general funds from their (M&O) budget to pay for these services.  Again, by law, M&O budgets can only be used for salaries, curriculum and classroom supplies.  We therefore see that at the same time the Arizona state legislature decreased M&O funding to districts across the state, they also defunded gifted education in our state.  This means Gilbert Public Schools REALLY has had to do more with less.

Gilbert Public Schools is committed to providing gifted education services even in times of economic struggle.  Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted (GSG) is grateful for the district support of the GPS Gifted Education Vision and Mission Statement, which was GPS board approved in December 2012.  The GPS Gifted Education Parent Council has worked in partnership with GPS and GSG to provide appropriate supports and feedback towards the fruition of the GPS Gifted Education Vision & Mission.

We invite you to vote yes on the 2015 GPS budget override.

The Bond

What is a bond?  “A bond allows local voters to approve additional funding to use for capital items such as school buses, building renovations, and deferred maintenance and technology.”

Why does GPS need additional capital funding?  “In fiscal year 2015-16, GPS expects to receive $2.7 million in capital funding from the state, which is an 85% reduction from the $17.9 million received in fiscal year 2010-11.  Because of the reduced state funding, school repairs have been deferred, older buses have remained in service, and technology has not been updated.  The increased capital funding will address the most immediate needs in these areas.”

The chart below is, again, from the GPS budget presentation.  From this chart you can see how the Arizona legislature has decreased its funding for capital items, despite the state dictated formula stating required levels of funding.

How are your children affected by safe buildings?  Properly working air conditioning?  Properly functioning transportation?  Current instead of out dated technology?  These are the educational needs that the state is no longer funding sufficiently.  These are the budget items that will be supported by the 2015 bond. 

In spite of state lack of support for public education, we as a community can still have the great teachers, wonderful programs, safe transportation and the updated technology that our children need and deserve if we vote YES, YES for the 2015 override and bond.

For more information, please visit these websites:

We hope you will join us in supporting the 2015 GPS Bond and Budget Override election.  Please vote YES, YES, this October on your mail-in ballot.

** Please note that the ballot for this election is mail-in only and needs to be mailed by October 30th in order to be counted. 

Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted Executive Board
Stephanie Newitt, President
Pam Walton, Vice-President
Terri Grubb, Treasurer/Secretary

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Anxiety and Depression: Implications for Gifted Youth

September presentation:  “Anxiety and Depression:  Implications for Gifted Youth”

We would like to thank Dr. Laura Wingers for being GSG’s first guest speaker of the year.  Her presentation on “Anxiety and Depression:  Implications for Gifted Youth” was very informative.  We learned some of the symptoms that manifest themselves in gifted children and some of the supports (old and new) that are available.  The presentation reminded us that many of these feelings are normal, however, when they get in the way of life, growth, relationships, etc. that is the time to seek for help.  Dr. Wingers also recommended a book list with resources to support parents. 

If you missed  the Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted guest lecture, you can find the link Dr. Wingers’ slide show presentation on the News & Events page of our website.  Disclaimer:  The presentation is for informational purposes only; not a substitute for individual/professional consultation.

If you would like to hear Dr. Wingers again, she is presenting at Parent Day of the NAGC Conference on Saturday, November 14th, on “Developmental Asynchrony in the Young Gifted Child: Challenges and Opportunities.”