Educator Advocacy for English Learners
In our last blog post, we talked about Student-Teacher Ratios for English Learners. In many of the states listed there, their student-teacher ratios came about through advocacy. In the world of English Learners, there are so many issues to advocate for! When reflecting and writing about advocacy, I tend to focus on parent advocacy, but in this post, I will talk about educator advocacy.
How do educators learn how to advocate for ELs? How does one gain the skills needed? There are numerous articles and books on learning how to advocate for English Learners (for example, Diane Staehr Fenner’s book, Advocating for English Learners, but if one is looking for face-to-face training on this topic, where can they go?
Much of the time, the most important advocacy is local, so I’d like to highlight an example of advocacy training and skill building at the local level:
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools started an EL Fellowship program this school year that was funded through a grant from the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition in partnership with Conexión Américas. This program includes 14 EL educators who are learning how to channel their advocacy energy into policy changes and to influence policymakers at the district and state level. These educators are shaping EL policy — in their classrooms, schools, district, and state! The program is for one year and educators receive $1,000 stipend for their time. The fellows generally commit 2-3 hours a month in large-group meetings and additional time for independent work and research. Each fellow also gets paired with a community leader as a mentor.
Next, let us look at examples of state level organizations that offer educators training and support in developing advocacy skills:
EL Leadership & Legacy Initiative (ELLLI): This is an initiative of Californians Together and the California Association for Bilingual Education. The goal of the initiative is to develop a new generation of strong, well-informed, skilled, courageous and activist leaders to build and sustain the movement for educational equity and excellence for English Learners. According to their website, ELLLI’s curriculum provides an advocacy framework, historical context, lessons from the past, immersion in research, mentorship and skill development to inspire and prepare advocates to work at multiple levels to establish strategic action agendas, move policy and practice, develop and leverage research, work with media, and build and mobilize coalitions championing the right to quality education for English learners.
In addition, be sure to check in with your state’s chapter of TESOL or other similar organizations.
Finally, some national organizations offer educators training on advocacy. For example:
TESOL holds an annual Advocacy & Policy Summit and this year’s is already open for registration. This is a professional development opportunity for educators to learn about U.S. federal education issues and how to advocate for policies that support English Learners.
The National Education Association (NEA) came out with a guide in 2015 on How Educators Can Advocate for English Language Learners and offer training based on this guide. This training is free for NEA members. For more information, contact Luis Gustavo Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know of other examples that should be included here? If so, email Laura Gardner at email@example.com.