Saturday, May 13, 2017

AAGT 2017 Legislative Advocacy Summary

AAGT Advocacy Summary
May 8, 2017

Currently there are 89,000 students in Arizona identified as gifted from all demographics, cultures and corners of the state.  Since funding was suspended in 2009, there have been inconsistencies in identification and in the ability of districts and schools to provide curriculum and instruction at a level commensurate with gifted students needs.

Advocacy during the 2017 Legislative Session
Restoration of Funds
We are pleased with the positive response from both Senators and Representatives who have listened, asked questions, and become champions of the importance of gifted education for our students and the future of our state.

Through the leadership of Representative Heather Carter, HB2199 passed through the House Education Committee with a unanimous vote in favor, and passed through the House Appropriations Committee and the House Committee of the Whole with near unanimity overwhelmingly in favor of restoring gifted education funds.

In the Senate, Senator Kate Brophy-McGee introduced mirror bill, SB1105.  With the additional leadership of Senator Sylvia Allen, the Senate Education Committee unanimously voted in favor of restoring funds for gifted education.  SB1105 did not go on to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  And likewise, once HB2199 went on to the Senate, it was not heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, in spite of its overwhelming support.

Members of the House and Senate then worked to add the restoration of funds for gifted education to the budget.  

Representative Carter changed the funding proposal to $500,000 from the original $3.5 million during the budget process.  It was agreed that this was a much more realistic ask at this point in the negotiations.  Even so, Gifted Education did not end up in the budget this year.

We appreciate the valiant effort on the part of Representative Carter and Senator Kate Brophy-McGee.  Please send them a thank you!

The GOOD NEWS is we have not lost any ground.  In fact, we have gained.
  • We have reached out to key legislators with a more vibrant message and introduced gifted education to new members of the House and Senate  
  • Representative Carter has been and is still working behind the scenes to get support
  • It has been reported to us that members of the Legislature are indeed talking about gifted education.  We have laid a good foundation to build on!
What are our advocacy efforts going forward?  If there is anything we have learned, it is that we need to be patient.  There are hundreds of issues in our state worthy of investment.  The key is to educate all legislators, the Governor, and business and organizational stakeholders that gifted education funding isn’t limited to helping just our gifted students; it is an investment in the intellectual capital of the state.  How many of those other worthy causes could benefit from such an investment?

  • Representative Carter is committed to introducing another bill in the fall to build awareness and support.

  • It is important to continue contacting Legislators and tell the story.  Personal compelling stories are important to help Legislators understand and get on board.  Summer is a great time to make a visit to the Senator and Representatives in your Legislative District.  Take your gifted student and help your Legislators put a face to the issue!

In speaking with Representative Carter, she shared that constituents who advocate for gifted education with their Legislative District’s Senator and Representatives magnify the volume of her voice in the Legislature.  

To find your Legislative District and the names of the Senator and Representatives who represent you, follow this link:

Here is a sample communiqué:

Dear Senator or Representative  _________________,
I am aware that you passed a budget this year without the inclusion of funding for gifted education.  

I will continue to work with you to ensure funding is restored for gifted education.

This is important to me because _______________________

Your name
The city in which you live

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

I hope to meet many of you at the AAGT Parent Institute on September 23, 2017.
Thank you so much for your support!  Together we can make this happen!

Donna J. Campbell, M.Ed.
Advocacy Chair, Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented

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