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TESOL Statement on FY2012 Federal Budget Request (February 2011)

Statement from TESOL Executive Director Rosa Aronson, PhD, CAE

During this period of significant economic challenges, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL), the international association for English language educators, is very pleased to see that President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2012 education budget retains his commitment to high-quality education for all students in the United States.

The association is gratified to see that English language learner (ELL) students were not overlooked in the FY2012 budget, and that several of the essential programs serving ELL students were spared any cuts. TESOL is pleased to see funding for Adult Basic Education and Family Literacy state grants under Title II of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) modestly increased to $635 million, which includes $75 million for the English Literacy/Civics Education set-aside. The demand for adult English as a second language (ESL) programs has outpaced supply for many years, so additional investments in public adult education are critically needed.

In addition, TESOL is pleased to see the priority given in the budget to developing teachers and school leaders. Too frequently, funds for professional development for educators are the first resources cut when states and districts reduce education spending. The proposed investments to develop and increase the number of teachers and school leaders, such as the $975 million in reform-oriented initiatives to recruit, prepare, reward, and retain great teachers, the $500 million in the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund, and the $250 million in the Teacher and Leader Pathways program, will provide great help in developing teachers in the United States. As these programs are developed, TESOL strongly urges the administration to specifically and explicitly include ESL and bilingual educators among those served by these programs in order to address the current shortage of qualified ESL and bilingual educators in the United States.

However, the budget picture is mixed in other areas. TESOL appreciates that funding for English language acquisition formula grants under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been maintained at $750 million. Over the past decade, however, the number of ELL students in U.S. schools has increased dramatically and Title III funding has not kept pace, resulting in a gradual decrease in per-student spending. In order for Title III to truly have a significant impact on the educational outcome for ELL students, additional investments are needed in this important program.

In addition, TESOL welcomes the proposed $150 million in funding for the Promise Neighborhoods programs to help provide effective community services, strong family supports, and rigorous comprehensive education reforms to improve the educational and life outcomes for children and youth in high-need communities. Many ELL students live and go to school in high-need communities. However, other programs that provide support to high-need communities, such as the Even Start Family Literacy program, have had their funding cut. By reducing the levels of funding for family and community support, cuts in these programs could ultimately undermine the potential for educational improvement for ELL students.

TESOL and its members stand ready to work with the President and Congress on the FY2012 budget and to develop policies that support positive educational outcomes for ELL students and their families, and the teachers that serve them.


Founded in 1966, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a professional community of educators, researchers, administrators and students committed to advancing excellence in English language teaching for speakers of other languages worldwide. With more than 12,000 members representing 156 countries, TESOL fosters the exchange of ideas, research and peer-to-peer knowledge, and provides expertise, resources and a powerful voice on issues affecting the profession. Through professional development programs, its international conference, special interest groups and publications, TESOL engages tens of thousands of professionals to collaborate globally and create a world of opportunity for millions of people of all ages who want to learn English.