Christine Dahnke participates in TESOL Advocacy Day 2011
On June 6, 2011, Christine Dahnke joined 32 other TESOL members representing 25 U.S. based affiliates in Washington, DC for TESOL Advocacy Day 2011. 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 2011 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, Christine Dahnke met with staff from the offices of Senator Nelson, Senator Rubio, Congressman Mario Diaz-Ballard, Congressman Crenshaw and Congressman Rivera to discuss TESOL’s recommendations for ESEA reauthorization and the impact of the current law upon English language learners in Florida.
To participate, each affiliate representative was required to do several activities in preparation. For example, participants had to set up their own individual meetings with their Congressional representatives. To assist with this, TESOL provided directions and guidance, as well as the list of specific representatives and senators to contact. Participants were also sent talking points and background information on ESEA reauthorization so that they could begin to familiarize themselves with the issues in advance.
TESOL Advocacy Day commenced with a welcome from TESOL Past President Brock Brady. The morning workshop was led by John Segota, Director of Advocacy and Professional Relations, and was comprised of three briefings. The first panel featured congressional staff from the Senate discussing the “view from the Capitol Hill” on ESEA reauthorization and the key issues under debate. The second briefing featured Rosalinda Barrera, Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the US Department of Education discussing the Obama Administration’s proposal for reauthorizing ESEA. The last briefing featured representatives from the Education Community at large and the National Association of Secondary School Principals and National Education Association were highlighted.
Following these briefings, an interactive workshop was held on how to have an effective meeting with one’s congressional representative. This workshop was led by Ellen Fern and Audrey Bush of Washington Partners, LLC, TESOL’s 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.
At the end of the day, the participants shared their experiences and what they learned over dinner. Overall, all of the participants agreed this event was a very positive experience for them and for TESOL.
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.