The Senate and House have each voted on an appropriations bill to fund education programs for fiscal year 2006. Although the Senate continued funding for the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act at the 2005 level ($11 million), the House included $0 in its education funding bill. We need your help TODAY to secure funding for this important program.
The House and Senate will now go to a Conference Committee to work out the spending level differences on the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006. There is tremendous pressure on the Congress to reduce overall spending in 2006 to help pay for the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq, and for hurricane disaster relief. The "conferees" will negotiate a 2006 spending agreement, which will then go back to the House and Senate for a final vote before going to the President for his signature.
The Congress would like to have this wrapped up by Thanksgiving, which means that we have about 10 days to take action, and we need to weigh in soon so that the Javits program, as small as it is, is not negotiated away in the early going.
What we need to do
Our goal is to persuade the House conferees to accept the Senate funding level for the Javits program. This will ONLY happen if we make our voices heard.
(1) Everyone on the conference committee needs to hear from their constituents as soon as possible. If your Representative or Senator is on the list, please make sure you contact him/her via email, and urge others to do so as well.
(2) It is especially important that the conference committee leaders hear from their colleagues in Congress about funding the Javits program. If your Senators or Representative are not on the conference committee, you should contact them anyway - and ask that they contact the Conference Committee in support of the Javits program.
The overall message for everyone is:
the Javits program is the only federal program focused on the needs of the nation's more than 3 million gifted and talented learners; and
the program funds grants to help us understand how to identify and serve underserved gifted students, and shares research results and best practices with school districts across the country.
AND, depending on your state, there is additional information to personalize your messages:
(1) 12 states received Javits grants in 2005 (AZ, CA, CO, IA, MA, MD, MN, NH, NY, OH, TX & WY). Although these grants are intended to be 3-year grants; they are only guaranteed for the first year, which means that the grants will end before they have a chance to have an impact if the Congress fails to continue funding the Javits program. Note that several conference committee members are from the states that received Javits grants in 2005; be SURE to include reference to this problem in your communications to these members. (Visit 2005 Javits grants to see the 2005 grant summaries.)
(2) Many of your states have received Javits grants in the past few years. Be sure to include information about the value of those grants in your emails to your Senators and Representative. They need to understand the successes the grants have achieved, and what is at stake if the program ends. (Click Javits grants main page to view grants from 2002-2005.)
(3) Many of you are in school districts that have benefited from the research results provided by the National Research Center for the Gifted & Talented. Include those examples in your communications. Again, it is important for Members of Congress to know that federal program s benefit local schools. For those of you in Connecticut, be sure to emphasize that the National Research Center is headquartered at the University of Connecticut.
(4) Keep in mind that 27 Senators and 22 Representatives co-signed letters to the appropriations committees supporting $12 million for the Javits program. If your Senator(s) or Representative co-signed the letter, be sure to thank him/her and ask that he/she continue supporting gifted students.
Concluding your message
Once you have the basic message, and have personalized it based on your state or district's experience with Javits grants or the National Research Center, conclude your message with the following request:
(1) If you are writing to a member of the Conference Committee: "Please use your position on the Labor/HHS/Education Conference Committee to ensure that the Javits program is funded at the Senate level of $11 million."
(2) If you are writing to a Member of Congress NOT on the Conference Committee: "Please contact the Labor/HHS/Education Conference Committee leaders in support the Senate funding level ($11 million) for the Javits program."
IN ALL CASES, be sure that you also identify yourself as a parent/teacher of a gifted child. Also be sure to leave your full name and mailing address in your message so that the Member of Congress may respond to you.
How to send your message
(1) Nearly every Member of Congress has an online email/comment form on his/her website. Visit www. house.gov or www.senate.gov to access your Members electronically.
(2) If your Member of Congress does not have an email system, you should fax a letter to the Washington, DC, office. Fax and phone numbers are available on the Member's website
(3) If your Member of Congress does not have a fax number readily available, call the Washington office and ask to speak with the staff person who handles education appropriations matters.
(4) For those of you in a state with a 2005 Javits grant, you may personalize a letter through the Council for Exceptional Children's legislative action center. Visit CEC and click on your state to send a message.
Thank you for your advocacy efforts!
Read more about the Javits program.
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