October 12, 2018
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Danielle Pelletier, President, CATESOL, USA

CATESOL has been working on several legislative initiatives to advocate for English language learners and educators, three of which are Assembly Bills 705 and 2098, and DACA. We have also been implementing a new association management system (AMS) to help us improve operations.

What Is Assembly Bill 705 And What Are We Doing About It?

California legislators called for sweeping changes to reduce both placement into and time spent in “remedial” education courses in California community colleges. While initial versions of Assembly Bill (AB) 705 could have potentially limited high-level credit ESL language instruction to classes one-level below transfer-level English, the final bill allows a three-year timeframe for ELLs to enter and complete transfer-level English. The most ground-breaking aspect of this bill, however, is the language used in California law codifies that "instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL) is distinct from remediation in English" and that "students enrolled in ESL credit coursework are foreign language learners..." This recognition by California, "the nation's largest system of higher education," (AB) 705 was the outcome of a meaningful collaboration among CATESOL members and advocacy efforts by the organization. As a result, ESL programs will have until Fall 2020 to comply with the provisions of the new law. The (AB) 705 ESL Implementation Subcommittee, convened by the State of California Chancellor's Office in January, will continue to meet through the 2018-19 school year. The Chancellor's Office is set to release guidelines and recommendations to schools on (AB) 705/ESL in mid-July.

Christina Yanuaria, CATESOL Community College Level Chair (left), Judy O'Loughlin, CATESOL Socio-political/Advocacy Chair (middle), and Senator Kamala Harris (right) in Washington DC at the TESOL Advocacy Policy Summit, June 2018

What Is Assembly Bill 2098 And What Are We Doing About It?

California’s Adult Education map is organized geographically by consortia hubs — each consortium consists of a regional community college and its surrounding adult education institutions. Our state consortia and the CATESOL teachers employed there have been doing amazing work educating the state’s immigrants and refugees. Assembly Bill (AB) 2098 (McCarty/Thurmond) seeks to respond to the legislature’s request for measures on assessing the effectiveness of consortia: collecting accurate data on the needs of the students being served, better understanding of data sharing possibilities across consortia and other state agencies, and gathering data to assess immigrant integration by means of current EL Civics metrics. CATESOL’S advocacy efforts on behalf of teachers and students related to this endeavor include broadening the assessment metrics of immigrant integration to include the lower level ESL students not captured by the current EL Civics data. This is important because about 50% of ESL students statewide need language development before they get to the “increase and improvement” levels that the EL Civics metrics measure. In addition, we are also advocating that the consortia data include how many instructors serve in each consortium and what their certifications and authorizations include. Aside from accountability to stakeholders, this data could be used to promote faculty sharing across consortia.


Judy O'Loughlin and fellow advocate Lori Menning (WITESOL) at the TESOL Advocacy Policy Summit, June 2018, Washington, DC, USA

What Are We Doing About DACA?

In January of 2018, CATESOL sent a letter to California Congressmen and Congresswomen urging them to support a legislative solution that would ensure that President Trump’s action to eliminate the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be stopped. We believe that it is critical that Congress act quickly in order for these members of society to avoid deportation and be given opportunities to apply for a more secure status in our state and nation. There is compelling evidence that DACA recipients are some of our country’s highest performing and motivated students. Specifically, of the 197,000+ DACA recipients in California, approximately 72,300 are currently enrolled in universities and community colleges. We cannot afford to waste this valuable resource. Along with the letter, we sent a DACA White Paper developed by CATESOL members that outlines the history and importance of the DACA program as well as a Board Resolution urging Congress to reverse the DACA actions and restore opportunities for DACA students.

We also sent the letter via email to all CATESOL members with the position paper (board resolution) and requested that they contact their federal legislators, including both Senators. We provided instructions and language on how to do this. This initiative took place when President Donald Trump was planning to make a decision about DACA and send his requests for legislation to Congress. CATESOL wanted to be sure we had a voice.

Involving the membership to participate in this kind of legislative advocacy was empowering, and we will be doing more of this in the future. If your US affiliate has been active in advocacy at the state level and you have systems in place that are effective, please pass along your strategies. We would love to learn from your efforts.

Judy O'Loughlin, CATESOL Socio-political/Advocacy Chair at California Representative Eric Swalwell's office in Washington DC at the TESOL Advocacy Policy Summit, June 2018

Association Management System:

Over the years, CATESOL has been slowly transitioning from operating on a paper-based system to becoming more digital. As this has been occurring over the last couple of decades and under the leadership of many Presidents and Board of Directors – all of whom are volunteers, the result has been multiple digital systems cobbled together. Between Google Drive, Docs, Forms and Groups, a separate database system to keep track of members, Eventbrite for local events, a third-party vendor for regional and annual events, Mailchimp for newsletters, WIX for our website and a variety of other software providers, we were able to operate, but oftentimes the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. There was too much redundancy and we wasted time working on tedious tasks to keep the business going.

In an effort to bring us into the 21st century, we researched, discussed and ultimately approved an association management system (AMS) that could house all of these tasks and more in one place. Not only can this system provide customer relations management (CRM), broadcast emails and autorespond (send automatic emails that get pushed out to certain tagged members for renewal reminders, for example. The new AMS will also provide member porta discussion forums, as well as be used for conference registration, and call for proposal management. It will also house the website, an event calendar, and a member directory. The new system also offers an easy reporting system, so we can quickly learn how many memberships are set to expire or which members have not yet volunteered, for instance.

Training is part of our onboarding process and our live video trainings are recorded for future use, so when new volunteers are tasked with managing the system, the hand-off will be friendly. At this point, we have successfully migrated all of our members from the old database to the AMS without a glitch. Next, our new website will go live. Step by step CATESOL’s back office operations will move over to the AMS. Although the transition initially requires time to train a few key people on the system, over the long-term we expect it will save our general manager, website manager, and publications coordinator time and energy, and it should also save CATESOL money on third-party vendors. So far, so good. If you would like to hear more about the AMS we selected, how it all works, and/or how our migration is going, feel free to contact us at catesol@catesol.org. We would love to hear from you!

Christina Yanuaria, CATESOL Community College Level Chair (left standing), Judy O'Loughlin, CATESOL Socio-political/Advocacy Chair (right standing), and fellow advocates for ESL learners and teachers in Washington DC at the TESOL Advocacy Policy Summit, June 2018


Danielle Pelletier, President of CATESOL, has been supporting international students and professionals with their American English communication skills since 1997. She is the President of English League, a company that provides on-site English language training, foreign language training, and cross-cultural education to companies locally, nationally and internationally. She is also an Associate Professor of ESL at Canada College and the author of Easy English Step-by-Step for ESL Learners and Master English Communication Skills - FAST! published by McGraw-Hill (2014)

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