Wisconsin Introduces First-Of-Its-Kind Gifted And Talented Education Savings Account

Today, a group of three lawmakers from both sides of the aisle led by Senator Alberta Darling introduced legislation to create a Gifted and Talented Education Savings Account. The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the following statement in support of the legislation.

Statement from Justin Moralez of the Wisconsin Federation for Children:

“This innovative new Education Savings Account option for designated Gifted and Talented students is the type of reform that will propel our Wisconsin education system and economy into the next century. While the bulk of education reforms are appropriately focused on students who are struggling to learn the basics, there is still ample opportunity to let skilled and excelling students reach their full potential. Low-income students from all sectors, public or private, would be eligible for this meaningful investment in their future. We are thankful to Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), and Representatives Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk) and Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) for introducing this bold piece of legislation for needy Wisconsin children.”

Statement from Senator Alberta Darling:

“Who knows how many scientists, engineers, musicians, artists, and community leaders we are missing out on because their family can’t afford additional educational opportunities. This is another way to make sure our best and our brightest get the opportunity they need to succeed. Wisconsin is a national leader in ensuring every child has access to a quality education. It’s time we make sure every gifted and talented child also has the resources they need to reach their highest potential.”

Details on the Gifted and Talented ESA:

K-12 children that are deemed Gifted and Talented Students could use $1,000 in an Education Savings Account to help pay for textbooks, tutors, fees, tuition and classes that develop their gifts from other schools, colleges, online providers or private instructors approved by the Department of Public Instruction. If funds are unused in a particular year, they can be rolled over into the next academic year.

Eligibility:

Low-income students (those who qualify for Free and Reduced Price Lunch) situated in traditional public schools, public charters, or in private schools participating in one of Wisconsin’s four voucher programs who:

– score in the top 5% of any test mandated by the state – from 3rd grade Reading exams, to the ACT, or

– are designated students as Gifted and Talented in Music, the arts, leadership and other academic areas (because these state and national tests tend to focus only on language, Math, Science and Social Studies), would be eligible.

To read more about this innovative Gifted and Talented school choice program, see the American Federation for Children blog post by Scott Jensen here: https://www.federationforchildren.org/gifted-talented-esa-wisconsin-proposed-school-choice/