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Affiliate News: February 2010

Affiliate News (October 2009): TESOL Advocacy Day 2009

by User Not Found | 11/10/2011
TESOL Advocacy Day 2009

Mark Bruns, WATESOL Socio-Political Concerns Committee Chairperson

On June 24, 2009, Mark Bruns, Caralyn Bushey, and Bryan Woerner joined 22 other TESOL members representing 18 U.S.-based affiliates for TESOL Advocacy Day 2009. This event featured a day of issue briefings and workshops, capped by visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

(From left to right): Joy Owens, MDTESOL Socio-Political Concerns Committee Chairperson; Mark Bruns, WATESOL Socio-Political Concerns Committee Chairperson; Caralyn Bushey, WATESOL Past President

This year TESOL Advocacy Day 2009 focused on reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). To maximize the impact of Advocacy Day, participants met with key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. This year, we met with staff members from the offices of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD 8th), and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD 2nd).

TESOL Advocacy Day commenced with a welcome from TESOL President Mark Algren and President-Elect Brock Brady. John Segota, director of advocacy and professional relations, led the morning workshop which was composed of two briefings.

The first briefing featured congressional staff from both the House and the Senate discussing the “view from the Capitol Hill” on WIA reauthorization and the key issues under debate. The second briefing featured representatives from the National Coalition for Literacy, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education all discussing their activities and perspectives on the reauthorization. Following these briefings, an interactive workshop was held on how to have an effective meeting with one’s congressional representative. Ellen Fern and Krista Heckler of Washington Partners, LLC, TESOL’s legislative consultants, led this workshop.

Following lunch, we conducted our scheduled meetings with our appointed staff members. Our first meetings were at the offices of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Chris Van Hollen. The response was positive. Both Sen. Mikulski’s and Rep. Van Hollen’s legislative assistants expressed knowledge of WIA and an interest in the issues of adult education. Next, we met with the legislative assistant for C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger the day ended on with a question and answer period with senior legislative assistant for Steny Hoyer

While we were meeting with the Maryland representatives, Bryan Woerner and Denise Ricks of VATESOL met with the aides to Congressmen James Moran (D-VA 8th) and Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd) and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). Both offices were very welcoming and accommodating. In the meeting with the aide to Senator Webb, Bryan and Denise learned that he plans to introduce a bill that would fund the adult education part of WIA (commonly called Title II) this fall.

They also made unscheduled courtesy stop to the offices of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA 5th) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) where they were fortunate to speak at length with the top aides about the need to fund adult education and workforce training.

After dinner, John Segota led a brief discussion for us to share general experiences and lesson learned. Overall, everybody had a very positive experience and agreed TESOL Advocacy Day 2009 was a resounding success.

Additional information about TESOL Advocacy Day, including photographs and video of the interactive workshop, is available on the TESOL Web site at www.tesol.org. Also, please learn more about your Congressional representatives and the legislative issues TESOL is tracking by visiting the TESOL U.S. Advocacy Action Center Web page.

This article was adapted and reprinted with permission from WATESOL and can be found on its Web site.