By Stephanie Marcotte, NNETESOL Past President
The TESOL Advocacy Summit is an annual gathering of TESOL affiliate members in Washington, D.C. Participants from all corners of the country come together to participate in this summit and represent their affiliate. The goal is to advocate for English learners and English language instruction on a federal level. Participates come together for two days of training and one day of advocate work at the Capitol Hill.
Earlier in June 2019, I was proud to represent NNETESOL at the 2019 TESOL Advocacy Summit. This was my first time participating in this summit, and I can say that this was a truly inspiring and rejuvenating experience. As a first time participant, I was lucky to work along side folks from the MATSOL affiliate. While this is an opportunity that individuals can participate in alone, it was very helpful to be along side other teachers and leaders from within the field.
Much of the trainings and conversations focused on the Reaching English Learners Act. This hopes to address the shortage of ESL teachers across the country. The goal is to create a pipeline for teachers to have the specific training necessary to teach English learners. This was a major platform during the conversations with members of congress and their staff members. The hope was to get congress members to cosponsor the Reaching English Learners Act.
The meetings with members of congress went really well. The majority of the meetings were with staff members. During conversations along side MATSOL members, we were able to meet with many great staff members. We even spoke with a staff person who was an English learner. I was pleased to attend a meeting with Representative Keating from Massachusetts. In all, the conversations went really well, and we walked away with contact information to provide follow-up information.
Overall, I would highly encourage NNETESOL members to participate in the TESOL Advocacy Summit next year. This summit is for all educators and leaders to advocate for their students and the field. Together we are really able to make a difference on a federal level. This summit provides all of the necessary tools to have meaningful conversations with members of congress. It is not necessary for someone to know everything about politics or federal policies. It is most inspiring to have educators talk about their experiences and their students. I hope to participate in this program again, and I would love to see more folks from Northern New England in Washington D.C.