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Our mission is to respond to your concerns about legislative and other issues impacting your practice as ELL and Bilingual Educators. We research the issues that you care about and disseminate our findings to you via advocacy webpage updates.Advocacy Chairperson:
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2015 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit
ITBE Board members Shane Dunkle, Cory Long, and Lisa Barrett represented ITBE at the 2015 TESOL Advocacy Summit in Washington D.C. They felt the experience was quite eye-opening and powerful.
On the first day they received training from TESOL regarding issues which were being debated on Capitol Hill and the stances that TESOL had on certain bills. These included H.R. 5 (Student Success Act). Shane, Cory and Lisa learned how to articulately speak about those topics to Senate and Representative staffers. They also learned about massive upcoming budget cuts in education, which, they felt, made it more important than ever for ITBE to advocate on behalf of Illinois students. The day ended with some lessons on forum and technique to use when lobbying the next day on Capitol Hill. The team felt eternally grateful for this day as it helped alleviate the nervousness and anxiety about the following day.
Another highlight of this day was meeting all of the different TESOL affiliate representatives. Listening to the all too similar, and also very different challenges that are present in our field from many different perspectives, and seeing all the unique ways that people all over the country are dealing with issues and overcoming the challenges both inside and outside the classroom was empowering to say the least!
The second day was the crazy, hectic, meeting day. The team had scheduled meetings with staffers from the offices of Congressman Dan Lipinski, Congressman Mike Quigly, Congressman Robert Dold, and Senator Mark Kirk. They met with the Legislative Assistant for Education, Ms. Cade Clurman, at Senator Mark Kirk’s office. She assured them that Senator Kirk, having been one of the major authors of the Every Child Achieves Act, is a staunch supporter of education, and confirmed that the senator has done some work himself in education in the past. She explained further, that although Senator Kirk is a Republican, he is one of the few who supports increasing education funding as one of the most important measures for building a brighter future for the United States. Ms. Clurman indicated as well that Senator Kirk would be interested in hearing further from ITBE and its members about issues related to English Language Learners and Teachers.
The team felt they were taken seriously and listened to carefully by all of the staffers. They felt it was quite empowering being able to have the voice of the people being directly heard at the very heart of our form of Government. As they walked past the offices of elected Representatives and Senators, they noticed they were not the only group of people going in and out of offices; they said it felt great to see that if there was something that enough people felt strongly about, then some sort of action could be taken right at the grassroots level.
Overall, the ITBE coalition was very pleased with the outcome of the meetings, and felt hopeful that this dialog can help ITBE members to be better represented in the US government. The team went into the whole experience not knowing much about advocacy. Of course they had opinions on the various political issues of our times, but their voices were rarely heard beyond coworkers and friends. Teachers see in the classroom some of the struggles our students face as they live, work, and study in this country and how sometimes systems that are in place to help them do not always meet their expectations. Many educators focus more on what they can do for students in the classroom than on what they could do for them outside as well.
Participating in Advocacy Day brought two worlds together that seemed very separate before. The team would like to encourage everyone to try it sometime. It is not as hard as it seems. Get to know your local representatives (try these websites: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/). Follow how they are voting (which might be different than what they are saying!) and try contacting them if only just to start a dialogue and have your voice heard. It will also help those who have a hard time getting their own voices heard. Although much of our focus is usually what goes on in the classroom, through advocacy we can also focus on experiences from outside the classroom. That is a win-win for everyone!
TESOL Advocacy Day 2014 - Report from ITBE Delegates (PDF)
TESOL Advocacy Day 2013 - Report from ITBE Delegates (PDF)
TESOL Advocacy Day 2012 - Report from ITBE Delegates (PDF)
TESOL Advocacy Day 2011 - Report from ITBE Delegates (PDF)