Special Interest Group:

Advocacy & Policy

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November 2018 Updates

A message from your SIG Leader, Sharon Umlor:

Greetings MITESOL Advocates! 2018 continues with challenges to raise our voices to. If you would like to participate in any of these advocacy efforts to offer expertise, lend service, or ask questions, reach out! 

You can also join the conversation on the Advocacy and Policy Facebook Group page.

 -- Sharon Umlor, advocacy-sig@mitesol.org

Want to be in the loop on legislative advocacy?

Track legislation, stay up-to-date on education policy platforms, and take action using these professional organizations’ websites:

American Federation of Teachers Michigan

American Federation of Teachers

Michigan Education Association

National Education Association

MITESOL Advocacy: Conference Highlights

A session outlining policy updates and how to advocate on the state and federal level was presented by MITESOL board members Sharon Umlor& Jennifer Musser, which also included a special presentation: Immigration Policies that Impact Students by Rebeca Ontiveros-Chavez, an attorney from Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). Ms. Ontiveros-Chavez also conducted a separate session that addressed Current Issues Facing Immigrant Students.

Policy Support: Take Action!

    To be an effective advocate, try these action tips from Ester De Jong, President of TESOL International Association:

1. Seek out local and state leaders who are established advocates for ELs.

2. Stay current – Keep up-to-date with TESOL’s letters and alerts on important government policies and legislation.

3. Follow legislative action – Sign up for alerts from the State of Michigan Legislature and U.S. Congress.

4. COMMUNICATE with your elected officials via all channels – emails, letters, phone calls – frequently! Use a template or script.    

            Explain which specific policy is causing you to reach out (support or suggested change).

Federal Updates

Separating Immigrant Children from their Families

Read the MITESOL & MABE Joint Statement opposing the U.S. Administration's current policies. Also check out the Keep Families Together Act, S. 3036, which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and has since been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Reach out to this committee and your senators to urge them to support this bill.

Reaching English Learners Act, H.R. 4838

TESOL International Association recently sent a letter supporting the Reaching English Learners Act, H.R. 4838. Drafted and introduced by Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI-12), the bill currently has 12 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Addressing the growing number of English learners across the United States, as well as the shortage of qualified English language teachers that many states are facing, the bill proposes new federal grants for the training of English language teachers, as well as the development of ​partnerships between institutions of higher education that prepare future ​teachers and local education agencies. 

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Reach out to this committee and your representatives to urge them to support this bill.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The fight for immigration reform in our country continues. TESOL International Association has long advocated for common-sense and respectful immigration reform in the United States. In September of 2017, TESOL released a new position statement on U.S. immigration reform and joined more than 50 organizations in a letter urging the President of the United States to maintain DACA, which has provided work authorization and protection from deportation to undocumented young adults since 2012. 

So far in 2018, Congress has been unable to pass legislation that addresses this issue. President Trump released his formal budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which carries an aggressive immigration enforcement agenda and mirrors the yet-to-be-passed FY 2018 funding request. The proposed budget seeks to fund the border wall, as well as increase funding for immigration enforcement, detention, and deportations. Congress has been passing multiple continuing budget resolutions in order to fund the government for weeks or months at a time leaving the immigration issue uncertain for many.

For comprehensive updates and facts regarding DACA and immigration, check out Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and American Immigration Council.

Association News

TESOL Affiliate Advocacy Pages

Several TESOL affiliates around the country besides MITESOL have advocacy pages… Take a look at these informative advocacy sites from MIDTESOL, ITBE, and CATESOL.

2018 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit

in Washington D.C.

MITESOL board members Sharon Umlor and Jennifer Musser once again attended the 3-day summit during June. This year, we were able to meet with the offices of:

  • Senator Gary Peters
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow
  • Congressman Jack Bergman (1st District)
  • Congressman Justin Amash (3rd District)
  • Congressman John Moolenaar (4th District)
  • Congressman Tim Walberg (7th District)
  • Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (12th District)

Based on recommendations from the TESOL International Association, we focused much of our meetings on urging our legislators to do the following:

  • Support the Reaching English Learners Act (H.R. 4838);
  • Oppose the consolidation of the Office of English Language Acquisition under the larger Office of Elementary and Secondary Education;
  • Fully fund ESSA, WIOA, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) for FY2019, while keeping in mind that as our learner population grows this funding will need to be increased in order to realistically continuing meeting its needs; and
  • Support the Dream Act of 2017 (H.R. 3440 & S.1615) so as to not only provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients but also to send a message to our administration and our fellow Americans that immigrants make this country great and should be protected.

Click here to download the full binder of information that we left with each of our legislator’s offices.

If you have any stories or information from your district or classroom that you would like included in next year's binder, send it to sharonumlor@grcc.edu.

2018 speakers included:

State Updates

English as Michigan's Official Language, Michigan H.B. 4053

The state House of Representatives has recently passed H.B. 4053, a bill that would make English Michigan’s official language. English Learners, their families, and adult students learning English, will be negatively impacted by the social and political ramifications of enacting this bill. While the bill may not change current practices in education, nor governmental services, it clearly sends the message that all people are not openly and warmly welcome to participate in local and state processes in Michigan. Since the bill has already passed in the House, please contact your MI Senator and the governor to express your opposition to this unwelcoming legislation.

Michigan’s 3rd Grade Reading Retention Law English Learners

In October of 2016, Governor Snyder signed legislation commonly known as the Third-Grade Reading Retention Law. Starting in 2020, a third-grader who doesn't meet a certain reading proficiency level will have to repeat that grade. Educators and school leaders are concerned about the impact this law will have on high numbers of English learners (ELs). In conjunction with the Michigan Association for Bilingual Education (MABE), MITESOL is preparing a statement to educate policymakers about the negative effects this legislation will inflict on ELs. To gain more insight into this issue, listen to Michigan Radio Stateside program’s interviews with Paula Winke, from Michigan State University’s Second Language Studies Program, and Suzanne Toohey, a curricula developer and assessor for English language learners in Oakland School (also our MITESOL president!). 

Michigan English Learners the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 

Michigan’s plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was approved in November of 2017 by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Some of the new features of Michigan’s plan include a Parent Transparency Dashboard, identified “Comprehensive Support Schools” and “Targeted Support Schools”, the continued use of the Partnership Model, and a greater focus on developing the best educators by providing targeted professional development for teachers. 

Provisions regarding English learners are addressed in several parts of the plan under English Language Acquisition and Language Enhancement (p. 89), Progress in Achieving English Language Proficiency (p. 120), and English Language Data Sources (p. 124).

Featured Michigan Advocacy Resource:

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) is a legal resource center for Michigan's immigrant communities. MIRC works to build a thriving Michigan where immigrant communities are fully integrated and respected.

AND… more Advocacy Resources from TESOL International that offer English language educators the opportunity to get involved.

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