From the Ohio Association of Gifted Education Action Alert, 3/17/11 (in part, but please – read it all):
I should note that in the governor’s town hall meeting on the budget on Tuesday, a father of a gifted child asked why the gifted funding was eliminated. The governor’s education policy director, Bob Sommers indicated that gifted education remains a high priority and that gifted funding was maintained. Tim Keen, the director of the Office of Budget and Management, then said that districts all gifted funding in the basic aid funding for gifted children and will have to make the local decision about how to serve these students. Governor Kasich then took the microphone and said that Ohio is in the bottom ten of all states for having money in the classroom and the in the top ten for having bureaucracy. He recommended that if a parent has a gifted child that the parent should go into the local superintendent’s office and stand up for their child by demanding services. The interesting response seems to indicate that perhaps the unintended consequences for the gifted budget recommendation may not be fully understood by the governor and his staff. As gifted education is a small and unusual part of the education budget, that isn’t too surprising. But it does need to be fixed if gifted services are to be maintained in the majority of districts in the state.
Sigh – I’m not even going to respond to Kasich’s recommendation – thank goodness Ann addressed it very, very diplomatically (I would not have).
I’d been watching the action alert page anxiously last week and am glad that I’ve gone back to the twitter feed of OAGC’s Ann Sheldon (on Twitter, @anngift) to see that an alert has now been posted.
Here’s what you can do (and what you know I’ll be doing), also from the Action Alert:
1) Read the OAGC Response to the Executive Budget which can be downloaded at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget.
2) Mark your calendars for the first week in April, which is when public testimony on the education budget is likely to begin. When I have specifics, I will post them.
3) Please begin to make calls or send emails to legislators to ask questions regarding the gifted education budget and share your concerns about the fact that if the gifted funding is moved to the basic aid line item, services in your district will be in jeopardy. Indicate the former system of gifted units and supplemental identification funds was a better way to fund gifted services.
4) If you phone, you will likely get voice mail or an aide who will answer. Make sure you leave a message. As always be polite, don’t bash the governor or anyone else, but do emphasize that cuts to gifted education should be proportionate to the total education budget – not larger. And the shift to basic aid without appropriate accountability will have a devastating impact in your district.
5) You should contact the following individuals: Your representative and senator and members of the House Finance Primary and Secondary sub-committee. Phone numbers and emails are listed below. It is important to call as well as email as many email boxes are currently filled with SB 5 email:
Rep. John Carey (R) — (R) 614-466-1366 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Ron Magg (R) 614-644-6023 email@example.com
Rep. Gerald Stebelton (R) 614-466-8100 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Matt Lundy (D) 614-644-5076 email@example.com
Rep. Debbie Phillips (D) 614-466-2158 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any other personal contacts in the Ohio House, especially members of the House Finance Committee, please contact them. House Finance members
If you are writing an email, here some points you may wish to include some of the following points:
a. Gifted services have been badly hurt under the evidenced based model formula and that the executive budget, as is, will deliver a death blow to gifted services in this state.
b. If services have been cut in your district or will be cut, let them know. As always your personal story is helpful.
c. Share why local control does not always achieve the best result for students.
d. Indicate that there is a better way to achieve local control for districts and parents while maintaining gifted services. Returning to the previous system of gifted units and supplemental identification funds will do just that.
e. It is not productive to single out a particular student population for cuts especially when the infrastructure for this population has been so badly damaged in the past two years.
f. Ohio needs to support the gifted children in order to bring prosperity back to the state. We need to grow our own talent.
g. Ohio’s education system fails to be accountable for the performance of these children. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars and children’s potential to be left in districts that do not meet their needs.