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August 2012
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Advocacy Update: The Quarter in Review

Between a recent heat wave and increased rhetoric as the 2012 U.S. presidential election creeps closer, the temperature in Washington, DC, is rising both figuratively and literally. Although there was some legislative action on issues important to the ELT field, there was much more activity from the Obama administration. Here’s a brief overview of important developments.

NCLB Flexibility

In both May and June, the U.S. Department of Education approved 13 more states for flexibility from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), bringing the total up to 24. The recent states approved are:

New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Dakota

According the Department, states who receive flexibility under NCLB agree to develop state-level plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership.

More information on NCLB Flexibility is available from the U.S. Department of Education.

WIA Reauthorization

On 7 June, the House Education and the Workforce Committee met to mark up and amend the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, H.R. 4297. Aimed at reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the legislation that provides federal funding for adult education, the bill consolidates 25 workforce training programs that have been identified as duplicative and ineffective into a single Workforce Investment Fund that provides flexibility for states to determine the best use of funds.

On the flip side, Democrats John Tierney (D-MA), George Miller (D-CA), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) proposed H.R. 4227, an alternative version to H.R. 4297, that maintains set asides for disadvantaged populations; continues to provide supported, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities; and, while it makes minor consolidations, keeps the nationally effective individual programs funded. Such stark philosophical differences between the two bills made the markup debate lively as well as lengthy.

During the mark-up session, Democratic committee members attempted to change HR 4297 by introducing amendments that reflected their proposals. One amendment would have basically replaced the language of HR 4297 with the language of their alternative bill (HR 4227), while other amendments would have added language from the Adult Education and Economic Growth Act (HR 2226), a similar proposal sponsored by Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX). In his statements, Rep. Hinojosa explained his amendment would strengthen Title II of WIA by helping the nation create a robust education system and improve the lives of adults, and codifying integrated English literacy, civic education, and adult education and training programs to better align them with workforce training programs. Unfortunately, all of these amendments failed on a party-line vote.

TESOL International Association issued a letter with its comments and concerns on the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297) in April.
Deportation Deferment for Undocumented Students

On 15 June, the Obama administration announced that it will stop deportations for some undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children. The new policy was issued in response to years of pressure from immigration advocates, and in response to the lack of action on the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in the U.S. Congress.

In a press conference, President Obama said of the students eligible under this new policy "They pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.” Estimates suggest up to 800,000 students could be impacted by the new policy.

While this policy will undoubtedly help thousands of students and English language learners, it is only a temporary solution. It only defers deportation for up to 2 years; it does not change the immigration status of these undocumented students, nor does it create a pathway to citizenship. The DREAM Act would need to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president in order for that to happen.

While the new policy went into effect immediately, a process has not yet been established for undocumented students to apply for deportation deferment. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is expected to develop and implement a process within 60 days of the original policy announcement.

For more advocacy information and how to get involved, check out TESOL's Advocacy Resources page. 

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Fostering CBI Through Collaboration
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Lesson Plan: Rhyming, Ordering, & Recapping
TESOL Advocacy Day 2012
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