COTESOL participates in TESOL Advocacy Day 2010
On June 23, 2010, COTESOLís sociopolitical liaison, Liz Henry, joined 32 other TESOL members representing 25 U.S. based affiliates in Washington, DC for TESOL Advocacy Day 2010. This event featured a day of issue briefings and workshops, capped by visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. The goals of Advocacy Day were not only to lobby on key issues for TESOL, but also to provide an interactive learning experience for affiliate representatives on elements of advocacy. By the end of the day, TESOL members had visited the offices of more than 75 representatives and senators.
Responding to recent Congressional action, TESOL Advocacy Day 2010 was focused on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently revised as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). To maximize the impact of TESOL Advocacy Day, key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were identified for meetings. This year, Liz met with Jared Polis and staff from the offices of Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall to discuss TESOLís recommendations for ESEA reauthorization and the impact of the current law upon English language learners in Colorado.
TESOL Advocacy Day commenced with a welcome from TESOL President Brock Brady, who was also joined by Past President Mark Algren. The morning workshop was led by John Segota, Director of Advocacy and Professional Relations, and was comprised of two briefings. The first panel featured congressional staff from the Senate discussing the ďview from the Capitol HillĒ on ESEA reauthorization and the key issues under debate. The second briefing featured Richard Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the US Department of Education discussing the Obama Administrationís proposal for reauthorizing ESEA.† It was extremely helpful to have the perspectives of those working directly with representatives who will draft the legislation, as well as the Department of Education.
Following these briefings, an interactive workshop was held on how to have an effective meeting with oneís congressional representative. This workshop was led by Ellen Fern and Audrey Bush of Washington Partners, LLC, TESOLís legislative consultants. Participants were provided key information to prepare for their meetings and given the opportunity to role play. The purpose of the briefings and the workshop was to help the participants practice and prepare for their meeting on Capitol Hill that afternoon.
The workshop informed participants on what to expect when visiting Capitol Hill.† It was an important part of the day since many had never visited representativesí offices before.† The presenters shared to anticipate meetings that last only 15 minutes and that they may even take place in the hallway.† Role playing and helping participants understand the reality of busy politicos helped ease the anxiety of presenting such important information on behalf of our membership.
In my own experience, the Colorado representatives and their aides were very approachable.† I found it very easy to contact their offices and share the information.† I had met with two of the staffers at last yearís Advocacy Day and that made an even stronger impression.† The offices are becoming more and more familiar with the work COTESOL is doing for English Learners in Colorado.† It was also great to connect with other affiliates throughout the day.† Overall, all of the participants agreed this event was a very positive experience for them and for TESOL.
Additional information about TESOL Advocacy Day will be available on the TESOL web site at http://www.tesol.org. If you are interested in learning more about your Congressional representatives, and the legislative issues TESOL is tracking, go the TESOL U.S. Advocacy Action Center at http://capwiz.com/tesol.