ADVOCACY

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Position Statements

2019 Advocacy & Policy Summit

On June 17-29, 2019 Liz Martin joined over 100 other TESOL educators and members of TESOL International Association in Arlington, VA for the 2019 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit. The program featured a two days of issue briefings, breakout sessions and advocacy training, followed by a full day of visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill. With representatives from 25 US affiliates in attendance, the goals of the Summit were not only to learn more about federal policy issues impacting TESOL educators and English learners, but also to provide an interactive experience for participants to actively engage in advocacy on behalf of their schools, programs, students and fellow educators. By the end of the Summit, TESOL members had visited the offices of over 150 Representatives and Senators.

To fully prepare for this year’s Summit, participants completed several important tasks before arriving in D.C., including scheduling meetings with their representatives in Congress. For many participants, this was their first experience in arranging such meetings. In order to assist new advocates, TESOL provided directions and guidance. Additionally, TESOL utilized its professional networking platform, myTESOL, to connect participants and encourage collective advocacy. One of the most important tips is to call the representative/senator’s office and acquire the email of “the scheduler”. Simply filling out a request on their website is not sufficient. Multiple emails and calls to confirm an appointment are required.

Participants also received background information on key policy issues such as federal funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act and the passage of the Reaching English Learners Act, so that they could begin to familiarize themselves in advance. To help make their congressional meetings more effective, participants were encouraged to find examples from their own programs to illustrate the talking points they would use in their dialogue.

The Summit featured a keynote from José Viana, the Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to Mr. Viana, this year’s Summit welcomed Kerry McKittrick and Bridget Kelleher, legislative aides to Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) respectively, who addressed attendees on the need to pass the Reaching English Learners Act (H.R. 1153, S.545), which would provide grant funding for the training of pre-service English language teachers. Mckittrick and Kelleher also provided important tips on meeting with legislative staff on Capitol Hill. The Summit also included presentations from the American Federation of Teachers, Office of Career, Adult and Technical Education, Migration Policy Institute, National Skills Coalition, Center for Applied Linguistics, and Migrant Legal Action Program.

In addition to the numerous breakouts and speakers, Summit attendees were also given a special sneak-peak at the brand-new TESOL Advocacy Action Center. The new action center is an online advocacy hub that will allow all TESOL advocates, members and non-members alike, to contact their members of Congress about important TESOL issues, such as the Reaching English Learners Act. Furthermore, users can look up contact information for their national and state legislators and enter meeting notes if they recently called or met with their representatives. To learn more about the action center and take quick action on these important issues, please visit www.tesol.org/action

Following the various breakout policy sessions, the Summit shifted its focus to advocacy with preparations for meetings with members of Congress. It was important to schedule brief meetings of 15-20 minutes in length with sufficient time to travel to the following appointment. Allowances also had to be made in order to clear security between buildings.

To maximize the impact of the Summit, many participants attending from the same state teamed up so they could meet with the legislators in small groups. This year, Liz Martin and three other representatives from TexTESOL Regions I, II an III met with staff from the offices of senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. In addition, meetings with congressional office staff included: Marc Veasey , Will Hurd, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Veronica Escobar, Jodey Arrington and Julian Castro.

On June 19, participants went to Capitol Hill to have meetings with members of Congress and staff. It was a rewarding experience.

At the end of the day, many participants shared their experiences and what they learned over dinner. It was exciting to hear what other people experienced on their visit. Overall, all of the participants concluded that this year’s Summit was a very positive and motivating experience, with lots of advocacy work left to be done. More details on the 2020 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit will be released this winter.

2016 Advocacy & Policy Summit

On June 19-21, 2016, Liz Martin joined approximately 75 other TESOL educators and members of TESOL International Association in Washington, DC for the 2016 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit. The program featured a full a day of issue briefings and activities around education legislation and advocacy, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. With representatives from approximately 30 US affiliates in attendance, the goals of the Summit were not only to learn more about federal policy issues impacting TESOL educators and English learners, but also to provide an interactive learning experience for participants on elements of advocacy. By the end of the event, TESOL members had visited the offices of over 100 Representatives and Senators.

To fully prepare for the Summit, participants needed to complete several important tasks before arriving in Washington, DC. For example, participants needed to schedule meetings with their Congressional representatives. For many, this was a first. To assist with this, TESOL International Association provided directions, guidance, and a list of specific representatives and senators to contact. Additionally, TESOL International Association connected attendees with other participants from the same state to encourage collective advocacy. Four Texas advocacy representatives met with staffers from the offices of seven representatives and one senator. Appointments were scheduled up to a month in advance utilizing contact information provided on the TESOL International website. These were reconfirmed within the last week before the advocacy and policy summit. The appointments were then organized in a schedule that would allow us to visit with legislators in three different buildings.

Participants also received background information on key policy issues so that they could begin to familiarize themselves in advance. To help make their Congressional meetings more effective, participants were encouraged to find examples from their own programs to illustrate the talking points they would use in their meetings. Detailed information provided in the TESOL “leave behind folders” was used as talking points during each 15-25 minute meeting.
The Summit featured a keynote from Dr. Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, representatives from the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as the Student & Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, each presented updates from their offices. The Summit also included presentations from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and author Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner presented information from her book Advocating for English Learners: A Guide for Educators.

Each speaker provided invaluable information and key insights about the current status and rules and regulations from their areas of expertise. A flash drive was issued to each participant that included their contact information and power point presentations so that notetaking was minimal and there was more time focus on the speakers. This was perfect for efficient sharing this information with colleagues.

Following these briefings, the Summit shifted its focus to advocacy with preparations for meetings with members of Congress. To maximize the impact of the Summit, key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were identified for meetings. In addition, participants attending from the same state were teamed up so they could meet with the legislators in small groups. This year, Liz Martin met with staff from the offices of Blake Farenholt, Will Hurd, Joaquin Castro, Filemon Vela, Lloyd Doggett, Henry Cuellar, Joe Barton and Ted Cruz to discuss various issues affecting English Learners in regard to immigration and language programs at all levels.

On June 21, participants went to Capitol Hill to have meetings with members of Congress and staff. The metro was their main form of transportation. It was a challenge this year because various lines were under construction. They received up to the minute information of which routes were most viable. It was exciting to see the actual offices and meet staffers. Hospitality was extended at each office. After the meetings photos were taken at the entrances to the offices. There was a brass plate and an American flag at each entry. Photos were taken with individual cell phones and by cameras by helpful staffers who shared conversations about each district and facts about the interests of the legislators.

At the end of the day, the participants shared their experiences and what they learned over dinner. It was interesting to hear what other people experienced on their visit. Many shared that relationships and connections were being enhanced with each visit and email exchange. There was a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment  throughout. For some this was their first experience at the capitol. Friendships and connections with TESOL members from other states and countries were established. Overall, all of the participants agreed this event was a very positive experience for them and for TESOL International Association. 

2015 Advocacy & Policy Summit

On June 21-­‐23, 2015, as the Advocacy Representative of TexTESOL V, Liz Martin joined approximately 90 other TESOL educators and members of TESOL International Association (TESOL) in Washington, DC, for the 2015 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit. The program featured a full day of issue briefings and activities around education legislation and advocacy, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. The Summit offered the representatives from approximately 30 US affiliates opportunities to learn more about federal policy issues impacting TESOL educators and English learners and to enjoy an interactive learning experience in elements of advocacy. By the end of the event, we had visited the offices of over 100 Senators and Representatives.

To fully prepare for the Summit, participants were required to do several things in advance. For example, we had to set up our own individual meetings with our Congressional representatives. For many of us, this was our first! To assist with this, TESOL provided directions, guidance, and a list of specific Representatives and Senators to contact. Additionally, TESOL connected members from the same state to promote collective advocacy; as a result, members from TexTESOL II, IV, and V collaborated throughout the summit. It was such an enjoyable experience! It gave me and the other members an opportunity to share experiences about our own affiliates.

Participants received background information on key policy issues so that we could begin to familiarize ourselves in advance. To help make our Congressional meetings more effective, we were also encouraged to find examples from our own programs to illustrate the key points we would use in our meetings. As a TexTESOL Team, we collaborated on presenting personal Texas stories and sharing TESOL information; TESOL provided us a portfolio of documents, which served as a great resource of professional and factual information.

The Summit featured a keynote from Dr. Libby Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, each representative from the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education and the Student & Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security presented updates from his/her office. The Summit also included presentations from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and author Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, who included information from her book Advocating for English Learners: A Guide for Educators.

The briefings with the speakers were invaluable. They provided national connections that would be difficult for us to make on an individual basis. We took time to talk with these individuals after their sessions to thank them for their presentations. It was a tremendous experience. There were opportunities to take photos. Following these briefings, the Summit shifted its focus to advocacy with preparations for meetings with members of Congress. The tips were invaluable. We were better prepared when we met with the aides. We felt confident during our visits because we were familiar with the locations of their offices, protocols, and security procedures.

To maximize the impact of the Summit, key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were identified for meetings. In addition, participants from the same state were teamed up, so we could meet with the legislators in small groups. This year, the Texas team met with the legislative staffers from the offices of Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Congressmen Randy Webber, Ruben Hinojosa, and Joaquin Castro.

On June 23, we went to Capitol Hill to have meetings with members of Congress and staff. Maneuvering through the Metro and being in fast paced Washington, DC, surrounded by monuments and federal buildings, was exciting and educational. After the tightly scheduled back to back meetings, we had an opportunity to tour the Capitol building with an aide from Congressman Castro’s office. We were briefly able to watch a live session of the House of Representatives in session.

At the end of the day, we shared our experiences and what we learned over dinner. It was interesting to hear what others experienced on their visits. It emphasized the uniqueness of ELL programs in other states. It gave us a wider scope of what is actually happening throughout the country. Overall, all of us agreed this event was a very positive experience for us and for TESOL International Association.

2008 Advocacy Report